Escape the bustle with a trip to a Christmas-themed B&B
I can’t recall where I first heard about the Christmas-themed bed and breakfast in Flora.
But the idea of a Christmas-themed bed and breakfast really appealed to me.
I am as cynical as the next curmudgeon and as curmudgeonly as the next cynic, but I have somehow managed to retain a sense of wonder and magic around Christmas.
The Kimmell House
And so forth
What I discovered is that the Christmas-themed bed and breakfast in Flora is very much designed for families with young children. My own children are in their teens and are taking what I hope is just a temporary break from the wonder and magic of Christmas.
So I decided to visit Flora alone.
The owners of the B&B, Tim and Beth Sheets, messaged me to ask if “I still wanted a visit from Santa.”
I did. I envisioned awkwardness, but I told myself that Santa must visit strangers for reasons other than giving gifts and offering his lap as a chair.
Maybe he just wants to drink a friend’s whiskey while complaining about the elves.
Take a Step Back in Time
The Sheets’ Christmas-themed bed and breakfast is a log cabin that sleeps four to six. The cabin dates to the mid-19th century and was moved to the property from a nearby location and restored by Beth’s parents.
The cabin is part of Heritage Farm, an alpaca farm that the Sheets started in October 2003.
When I arrived, Tim told me that the guy who plays Santa, a neighbor of his, was too sick to pay a visit.
It was just as well: I hadn’t brought any whiskey. Also, it is in my nature to side with the elves in any and all disputes.
The cabin consists of two floors. Each floor is one large room. The floors are connected by a steep and narrow stairway.
The upstairs floor contains two double beds, two twin beds, and no doors separating them.
The cabin made me unexpectedly nostalgic. There used to be a lake house on my mother’s side of the family in central New York that was set up in a similar way.
The Heritage Farm cabin has a wood fireplace and a gas stove, and both heat the cabin fairly well. But don’t visit the cabin if you are used to vacationing in places where every corner and cranny share the same ambient temperature.
The bathroom is not an outhouse, but it is outdoors. You have to step out onto the sometimes-frigid deck to enter the heated bathroom, which is part of an addition to the house that didn’t exist before the advent of indoor plumbing.
The aforementioned lake house didn’t have indoor plumbing either. And, as a former Buffalo resident, I am used to brief forays into blizzards and Arctic blasts in my shorts or pajamas.
The Sheets leave S’mores kits and a popcorn-stringing kit for the kiddos. I made use of the former but not the latter.
The cabin has a microwave oven and a coffee maker but no kitchen. Meaning, there’s no stovetop or refrigerator.
Plan on restaurant lunches and dinners, or lunches and dinners consisting of trail mix and protein bars.
It occurs to me as I am typing this that you could just eat frosted sugar cookies and fruitcake for three days. This is something I have done when I am not in a cabin, but it might be nice to do it when I am in a cabin.
Tim told me of a bar in Burlington that sold great catfish dinners, but it was inexplicably locked up when I tried to visit. So I ended up getting takeout from Pizza King.
I’d brought a boom box to the cabin with Christmas CDs because the Sheets had warned me that the Heritage Farm’s Wi-Fi wasn’t dependable. They weren’t kidding. Don’t come to the cabin if you require Wi-Fi at all times.
Plan to Unplug
What the cabin seems ideal for is the reading of good books. Not potboilers or compendiums of funny lists. When you’re packing for your trip, grab a beloved book off the shelf at home that moved you but did not upset you.
I spent a lot of time reading by the fireplace. I tried listening to Christmas carols, but it was more distracting than evocative.
The cabin is decorated for “A Pioneer Christmas.” Celebrating Christmas would have been unknown or nearly unknown to whoever built the cabin, so the decorations are fittingly rustic.
As venerable as the voice of Bing Crosby seems to us, it was a little too modern for the surroundings. Compared to the sound of a fireplace crackling, Bing Crosby’s voice is no more vintage than that of Billie Eilish.
I achieved a lovely calm and liberation from the tyranny of time sitting next to that fire.
The next morning, the Sheets brought breakfast up to the cabin from the main house and we all ate together.
Then Tim invited me to help feed the alpacas.
As we walked to the barn, Tim was surrounded and followed by a half-dozen barn cats.
It looked like a scene from Wanda Gag’s “Millions of Cats” come to life.
Alpacas are usually wary and reticent, Tim said, but not at mealtimes.
The sounds they made while jockeying for position sounded like several creatures from the Star Wars films.
The Sheets’ also have a modern guesthouse for rent on the property and areas for tent camping and RVs.Additionally, there’s a store where you can procure items like alpaca wool socks that will delight your spouse when you get home.