Highfield Holidays and the Palmer House Tree
This year’s Holiday exhibition at Highfield Hall features dolls from around the world. Although the dolls are owned by different people, most of them belong to Mary Lou O’Rourke. Ellen McLaughlin a relative, began the collection almost sixty years ago. It represents three generations of collectors. Ellen started the collection when she was a young woman teaching abroad. Throughout her life, as she traveled the world, she added to the collection. She visited over one hundred and twenty countries. The dolls come from every continent and each doll is labeled with the name of its country of origin. I found many of them to be easily identifiable even without the labels. There is an entire Asian doll section and all of the European countries are represented. Much of the clothing is intricately designed. The hairstyles, jewelry, shoes, buttons and fabrics are very detailed and appropriate to each region. As one might expect, there are a variety of dolls that represent each region of the United States. One of my favorites is an Amish doll without facial features. She is dressed in the classic Amish bonnet and smock. In addition there is a lovely African-American doll with intricately sculpted facial features.
In addition to the doll display there is also an extensive decorative Santa collection. A number of Falmouth residence have combined their collections to create this impressive display. The exhibit combines more than one hundred Santa Claus figures that vary in size, shape and color.
It is difficult to believe but this is Highfield Hall’s eighth holiday season. Each year it becomes more extensive and more beautiful. Since the first year Bill Hendel’s extraordinary cheche display has been presented. In addition there is a gift shop filled with hand crafted items. That is where the grandmother in me comes out. There is also a little tea shop where one can stop and enjoy a hot drink and freshly baked pastries.
Each Christmas season at the Palmer House Inn, I unpack our family Christmas treasures. We have dolls and toys that belonged to Bill and me when we were children and of course we have toys that belong to our daughters and grandchildren. There is a spinning top and a jack-in the-box from the 1950’s and Cabbage Patch dolls from the 1980’s. When it was time to distribute the items from my parents house, some of the items that I chose were my grandmother’s cookie cutters. I decided to make tree ornaments out of them. I tied burgundy ribbon around the handles and hang them on the tree. There is one doll that I particularly enjoy finding a special spot. When our youngest daughter, Deirdre was five, I gave this doll to her because she looked so much like her. When I place the doll on the tree each year, the memories of our dear little girl, who has become a wonderful woman, fill my head. Our middle daughter Lauren is a designer and one could see that in her future by looking at the intricate ornaments she created. I think of her making the beautiful cut and folded paper designs as I place them on the tree. We also still have the first ornament that we gave to our oldest daughter on her first Christmas. These are the reasons that Christmas has always had a special time at our home.
Highfield Hall is located just a short walk from the Palmer House Inn. They have many festive events planned for the holiday season.
While all of our rooms have their own individual charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of holiday adventures on Cape Cod, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.