Friday, December 2, 2011

A Mark Twain Christmas in Hartford

Besides the book group holiday meeting ideas posted Dec. 1--along with book suggestions--there are fancy doings for Christmas in nearby Hartford, Connecticut.
On Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 10-11), noon to 4 p.m. each day, tour the former homes of authors Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Each a social critic in a unique way--Twain's Huckleberry Finn and many other writings let society have it between the eyes on its foibles and sins. Stowe made changes with her anti-slavery novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
The Stowe Center and the Twain House & Museum are opening their doors to invite visitors in for an old-fashioned Christmas celebration. There will be holiday garlands, decorated Christmas trees and so much more, introduced by a tour guide who will explain each family's traditions.
You can purchase a joint ticket to tour both of their homes, decorated for the holidays. Most events on these days are free, with an additional charge for house tours. Visitors receive a discount on the combination ticket for both tours. Cost is $20 for adults and $10 for children five through 15 years old.
Want more? There is so much going on:
Members of the Hartford Children's Theatre will portray a mischievous trio of excited Clemens' household daughters (Suzy, Clara and Jean).
Jolly Old St. Nicholas, too, will be on hand to meet children in the Mark Twain House, surrounded by life-size puppets from the Ballard Museum of Puppetry.

How about a horse-drawn carriage ride on the grounds?

High school singers will entertain with early-era chorales, and the Stowe Visitor Center is featuring holiday crafts for participants to try firsthand. Or, shop in both museums' gift shops, with a discount.

The Stowe Center will present two special Christmas exhibits, one--Reforming the Season"--showcasing popular 19th-century greeting cards, etchings, toys and other holiday goodies. The second exhibit is "Rooted in Reform: Portraits of a Family," featuring portraits from the Center's collections, including the Stowe family.
There's free parking and the two museums are next to each other at 77 Forest St. and 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford.
WHAT ELSE? Fun's not over yet.
* The "Steampunk Winter SolsticeTea Party" is a separate event, costing $10, at 2 p.m. Saturday. Call 860-280-3130 for reservations. This is part of a series of events in conjunction with an exhibit, "Steampunk Bizarre: The Unknown." At this event, hosted by Dr. Grymm and Miss Kitty, attendees celebrate the coming of winter with food, music, and a reading by Kady Cross (author of "The Strange Case of Finley Jane" and "The Girl in the Steel Corset"). Come decked out in your Victorian finery, or come as you are and bring a toy for Hartford Hospital, if you are able.
* There's also an event on Dec. 4: 
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Twain House is decorated for the season and area homes are open for visits. This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy early architecture and holiday decor in houses built from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. We hear that one house is completely filled with holiday trees!
This is a fundraiser for the museum. For ticket information ($30 each) call 860-280-3130 or visit
So enjoy the season with a literature and holiday combo that's tough to beat!