We’re delighted to be joined on our blog by the lovely Susan Mallery who offers an introduction to the fabulously festive setting of her new book, The Christmas Wedding Guest.
Welcome to Wishing Tree
In the scenic Cascade Mountains of Washington state, just fifteen miles from the Canadian border, there’s a festive little town named Wishing Tree. While there are many theories about how Wishing Tree came by its name, the true reason has been lost to history, at least for now. All we know for sure is that the town was founded in 1851 by five intrepid pioneer families who discovered a sweet, level spot along the Nooksack River that they could call home. Five years prior, in 1846, Prince Albert and Queen Victoria had made the popularity of the Christmas tree explode, and these enterprising families saw an opportunity. Christmas trees were Wishing Tree’s first industry.
These days, Christmas itself is the bread and butter of this small town—or should we say, its gingerbread and butter? From mid-November through New Year’s Day, the town is flooded with tourists seeking the Christmas spirit. The population swells from around 23,000 year-round residents to more than 30,000 for the holidays.
In the city center, the town square isn’t square at all—it’s round, and it’s known as the Wreath. That’s where all of the city’s most important celebrations are held. North/South streets have Christmas-themed names, while the East/West streets are named for types of evergreen trees.
And Wishing Tree is just about the most romantic place in the world—the perfect place to fall in love and raise a family.
First Snowfall – No one knows when that first snow will come, and in Wishing Tree, it really matters. Until the first official snowfall, no snowman decorations are allowed. The moment that first snowflake is observed on the town’s official Snowflake Cam, the town holds its breath. It only counts when it lasts for 15 minutes or more, with at least a light dusting sticking to the ground. The moment the clock ticks up to that fifteenth minute, the horns sound, and the season is kicked off in grand style with the biggest impromptu party of the year. Booths pop up, there’s live music on every corner to entertain during the community potluck dinner—and snowman decorations appear as if by magic.
Although the higher elevations get snow sooner, inside the city limits of Wishing Tree, the first snow typically comes in early November. Visitors who plan a vacation around the big event and then miss it can be seriously unamused. On the plus side, Wishing Tree has had a white Christmas every year of its recorded history—about as close as you can get to a guarantee when it comes to weather.
Lighting of the Trees – The first Friday after Thanksgiving, Wishing Tree hosts the Lighting of the Trees on the Wreath. The tree of Christmas Past, with ornaments to commemorate those who are no longer with us. The tree of Christmas Present, with ornaments to celebrate events of the current year. And the tree of Christmas Future, also known as the wishing tree, with ornaments that represent wishes, dreams, and hopes for the future. Residents and visitors decorate the trees with ornaments they make themselves.
Lighted Christmas Parade – The second Saturday of December, brightly lit floats follow the high school marching band and choirs from every local church to the tunes of all your favorite Christmas songs. This is a parade that makes the eyes and heart sparkle! Sunset is at 4:30 in December, so the parade starts at 5.
Citywide Advent Calendar – From December 1-24, the city announces an event each day, and neighbors eagerly participate. One day, they might be reading a Christmas book aloud, the next, cleaning someone’s yard, ice skating, competing in a scavenger hunt, or hanging lights for someone who can’t do it themselves.
Christmas in July – The celebrations don’t stop after the snow melts. Every July, from the 5th to the 26th, the town holds a 5K Reindeer Fun Run, a classic car parade, a day of service, and more. The summer festivities are capped off with the Sparklefest Ball.
Snow King and Queen – Every year, a Snow King and Queen are crowned and given ceremonial powers during their reign.
Read The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery now!