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The Little Yellow Farmhouse: A place where happy chaos reigns
1916 farmhouse one of seven Christmas in the Country stops.
Scrooges be warned. A sign at the entrance to Lucia Olson’s place says, “Welcome to the Little Yellow Farmhouse. Life is good.”
Olson means it.
“If it doesn’t make people happy, I don’t do it,” she said.
That’s the prevailing spirit of Christmas in the Country, which began 15 years ago as an around-the-island event to support home-based businesses, nonprofits and those in the artistic community.
Under Sharon Soames’ direction, Christmas in the Country has taken shape as a celebration of the holidays, of local art and craft and of Bainbridge history, as visitors take a self-guided tour through the country lanes, historic homes and off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods of Bainbridge. Santa and pony rides are on offer, too.
Olson’s 1916 farmhouse is one of seven venues this year. And four days before the start of the tour, it was “happy chaos.” Piles of red and green felt, giant sparkling snowflakes and plastic buckets full of stuffed Santas all sat waiting to be positioned in relation to 14 vendors, numerous dogs and cats, and one 750-pound iron rooster named King John, who dominates the family room.
As a host, Olson typically begins her work in June, tracking down artists and craftspeople. While Soames oversees the entire endeavor, Olson said she and each of the other hosts have a large amount of autonomy when it comes to selecting the tour vendors.
“What’s really wonderful is that under Sharon’s tutelage, guidance and support, each of the locations really has the freedom to create what they want,” she said. “All the locations are fabulous, but really different in terms of feel and what they offer.”
The Little Yellow Farmhouse will feature home accessories, antler art, glittering adornments, vintage collectibles, wearable art, homemade candy, carved wood and garden art, as well as samples from Olson’s own new endeavor, silver and pearl jewelry.
And people are as important as the work.
“I’ve been able to basically invite artists of the same mind. Their stuff is beautiful (but) personalities are first and foremost in my mind, because we’re in close quarters,” she said.
Olson’s anticipatory joy at both the event and in sharing her home with visitors – “three days of absolute ‘on,’” she said – is sincere and well earned. Twenty years ago, the former triathlete had open heart surgery and suffered a stroke following complications from pregnancy.
While she’s vital and active now, she calls the debilitating event her “adventure” because of the number of people it brought her close to, and the philosophy it left her with: “A good life is how many people you touch.”
Which makes her an ideal host, as islanders and visitors will find when they open the door this weekend to the smell of cookies and hot cider.
“It’s so wonderful to be able to bring everyone together,” she said. “It’s a blast.”