The Little Church That Could; and the Generosity of Strangers

Last week I told you I was heading up to Westminster, MD for a show called The Mistletoe Mart at an Episcopal church there.

MISTLETOE-MART-LOGO-266x300This was their 40th (!) annual Mistletoe Mart.  And as I was informed when I was invited to be a vendor there, “this is NOT your ordinary church bazaar.”  No kidding.

UnknownThis is the front of the charming stone church – it is tiny.  But, man, do they throw a party.

The Mart is held in the parish hall building and takes up the entire building:  two floors of it, to be precise.

The first thing the parishioners do is to remove every stick of furniture from the entire building and put it in a moving van for the duration of the Mart.  Holy cow.

And for the weeks leading up to the event, the church folks are busy in their kitchens preparing tons of food to serve the thousands of patrons who come to shop.  During the course of the three-day show, they prepare yummy homemade lunches and dinner.  The Friday night turkey dinner is the pinnacle of their gustatory delights.

I arrived Wednesday afternoon to set up and was greeted by Marcie, the chairperson and my contact, over the preceding months.  She is a delight and has a well of stamina and good cheer that astonishes.  I was assigned a great spot in the Great Hall (the large main room) with lots of space for me to spread out.

The schedule for this show is pretty daunting: 10 1/2 hours per day for the first 2 days.  Whew.  I would be lying if I said it wasn’t tiring.  But during all this, the Mart was not only swarming with lots of customers, but with lots of volunteers, dressed in red smocks, too.  They treated we vendors like royalty – bringing us food and drink and checking on us constantly.  What a wonderful respite from the usual show where you are pretty much on your own.  And since I am almost always by myself, it was terrific to have such care taken of me.  The food was fantastic – a departure from the usual yucky show food and greatly appreciated by me.

I ate out for two nights at two wonderful local restaurants.  On Friday, I opted for the turkey dinner.  It consisted of turkey breast, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, gravy, and green beans.  Oh, yum.  But I was too busy to eat it during the course of the evening at the show.  So I took it back to my hotel (complete with a real plate and utensils), warmed it up in the microwave and ate every morsel.  It was delicious.  Afterwards, I got into my jammies, crawled in bed, and spent the next two hours happily watching one of the greatest screwball comedies of all time, “My Favorite Wife,” with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.  I was happy as a pig in clover.  Maybe even happier.

We had beautiful autumn weather all weekend.  Thousands of people came and shopped, and bought.  IMG_1082 - Version 2

This was my view.  Pretty nice, isn’t it?

I had a very good show.  Not only because business was pretty good, but because of the people.  I had lovely vendor neighbors.  On one side was Brigitta, a Swede by birth.  She is 72 and has been on the show circuit for 37 years!  Talk about a woman with energy – she is amazing.  She is a weaver and a knitter.  I got a lovely beret from her; she got Christmas cards from me.

The parish hall is behind the town cemetery.  As I walked to the show on Friday morning, I was struck by the sun sending down beams of light through the clouds onto a stone angel. it was so lovely that I had to take a picture.  I only had my phone and had to take it through a chain link fence but I like the result anyway.IMG_1083

The other thing that made this show a standout for me was the incredible generosity of two strangers.  One was a lady who visited the booth on Friday and we got to talking about old Christmas ornaments and how wonderful they are.  She mentioned that she had a box of her family’s old ornaments that she did not need any longer.  Would I be interested?

What do you think?  Um, yes, please!

So bright and early Saturday morning, she appeared with this box of ornaments.  And she refused to let me buy them from her.  She said that if I really wanted to pay for the ornaments perhaps I could make a donation to the church instead.  Done.  What a lovely gesture.

Later that day, I got into another conversation with another woman who also returned to bring me all sorts of great goodies – again, she would not accept any payment from me.  How lovely is that?

IMG_1086Here’s a peek inside one box.

IMG_1087 - Version 2And here are some of the goodies after I unpacked.  Really great stuff, isn’t it?

The kindness of strangers.  I think they knew that I would truly appreciate their offerings.   How very humbling.

I spent the long drive home thinking about all the lovely people who made my time in Westminster such a nice one.  I hope they will have me back next year.

10 thoughts on “The Little Church That Could; and the Generosity of Strangers

  1. What a great trip! Will you be able to sell things made with those special ornaments, sent to you on wings of love, each with a special history? Thanks so much for sharing!


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