Whether it's buying the biggest tree or swinging with the king, the holidays on the Main Line are all about tradition.
Every year, the illumination ceremony for the Christmas lights at Peddler’s Village, in Lahaska, kicks off the holiday season in Bucks County.
You first hear it off in the distance. A far-off siren, wailing. It gets louder, more insistent. The kids race to throw on their jackets and snow boots. They swing open the front door and look longingly down the street. But then the noise quiets. The sirens are headed in another direction. The kids shuffle back in, off come the jackets, and the waiting continues. This happens a few times more, each false alarm inciting impatient grumbles. Finally, the tease is over. There’s no mistaking the sound of sirens growing closer. The kids run out again, and this time they hit pay dirt. There he is: Santa Claus himself, perched neatly on the front of a fire truck, ho-ho-ho-ing his way through Lower Merion, handing out candy canes and holiday wishes to the neighborhood’s rosy cheeked children.
This is how my Christmas Eve plays out every year. It’s not a religious thing (as evidenced by the menorah we light)—it’s a tradition thing. The beloved predictability of this night has become sacrosanct in our home, and a holiday without the fire truck waiting game is no holiday at all.
And every family has them. Some have holiday traditions that have been handed down generation to generation. For others, it’s newfound customs. Either way, they’re the things that symbolize the holidays, and most Main Line families can relate.
The Wayne fire department gives Saint Nick a lift to the Wayne Hotel.
“I love to be home for the holidays,” says Lindy Snider, owner of Lindi Skin. “We live in one of the classic old Main Line homes that looks so beautiful when it’s a snowy winter. I grew up never having a Christmas tree, so as soon as I had my own house, I bought the biggest tree I could find. Normally it scrapes the ceiling. There’s a wonderful feeling of community here, and it’s nice always seeing friends while you’re shopping and stocking up, getting ready for family.”
“Christmas is my favorite celebration because it includes cooking, family, friends, and, above all, Elvis,” says Barbara King, QVC garden expert and owner of Valley Forge Flowers. “Ever since my boys were little, we woke them up Christmas morning blasting Elvis holiday songs. Now that my sons are 19 and 23, they wake my husband and me with Elvis, blaring ‘I’ll have a blue Christmas without you.’ Nothing says holidays more to the ‘King clan’ than food, friends, and family being serenaded by the King himself.”
Pretty passageway: Christmas lights strung on the arch at Peddler’s Village.
“Although the holidays are busy and hectic for most families, I love to reconnect with family and friends in the area, or [those] that are visiting from out of town,” says Mark Semerjian, owner of Semerjian Builders. “We often will meet at many of the great little restaurants in Wayne that are decorated so beautifully during the holidays. It truly puts me in the Christmas spirit seeing all the decorations lining the streets. Then we’ll go to the Devon Horse Show grounds to choose our Christmas tree.”
“The Main Line is perfect during the holidays because it is the only time people finally stop and take the time to enjoy friends and family,” says jewelry designer Marlyn Schiff. “We go to holiday dinners and walk our dog Sadie at Bryn Mawr College. I cherish my family time since we are rarely together. It doesn’t get better than that.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GETTY IMAGES