Free trees, where to get Christmas dinner, Three Fat Guys Santa
Tory and Jesse Crowder started Operation Christmas Tree in 2020 after they paid a lot for a Christmas tree, watched their daughter's joy at "helping" decorate it, and worried about families that had suffered through recent years of fires and Covid.
Jesse works at Haystack Farm in Sonoma, where hundreds of pounds of vegetables, fruits, and flowers are picked or gleaned every week solely to give to those in need. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is ever sold. The entire spirit of Haystack is to share and give to others.
At a dinner honoring the volunteer gleaners at Haystack, organized by Chef Duskie Estes of Farm to Pantry, Tory and I happened to sit at the same table as she was wondering how and where she could make her idea of getting and giving even more Christmas trees away a reality.
Last weekend their website, operationchristmastree.org, became a reality, thanks to the Crowders, Estes, and Haystack Farm's friends and helpers. A year ago, the Crowders delivered 214 trees to Sonoma County families, many of whom had never even had one.
They also realized that most of the recipient families couldn't buy decorations, so this year's 1,000 trees come with lights, ornaments, and more, and even some presents and hot meals, thanks to donations from around the county. All of this earned the Crowders the Press Democrat's North Bay Spirit Award last year.
This weekend, people can enjoy choosing a Christmas tree with gifts of lights, decorations and even a special CSA box of vegetables provided by FEED Sonoma, of which Paul Wirtz of Paul's Produce in Sonoma is a member. FEED Sonoma (Farmers Exchange of Earthly Delights) is a cooperative of about 30 small Sonoma County Farmers. Estes' Farm to Pantry used money from a successful fundraiser to purchase boxes of produce from FEED Sonoma to give with the Christmas trees.
This year tree recipients also received packs of "Santa Snacks" of donuts, Christmas cookies, brownies, cupcakes, Rice Krispy treats, candy, hot chocolate, hot cider, and coffee from "Santa's Sweet Shoppe" in a white tent. According to Tory Crowder, the package even includes an excellent Spanish and English recipe book.
Saturday included a one-time visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus (aka Kelly and Steve Bacho), who happen to be Jesse Crowder's relatives and bring Santa happiness for free in the spirit of Operation Christmas Tree.
The original 800 Christmas trees, some of the most beautiful and highest quality we have ever seen, were quickly spoken for, so the Crowders have ordered more.
To sign up for a tree that might be available, go through the websites of La Luz, Burbank Housing, Celestina, Corazon, La Familia Sana, and Catholic Charities.
Winter Wine Fest
This Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 11 and 12, brings Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery's Winter Wine Fest with some interesting wine pairings. Foley Family Wines now owns Sebastiani.
Watch for fresh oysters with their Carneros Rosé, along with "hearty food bites paired with their newest release of red wines" and live music. Guests will also get to sample a barrel tasting of their Cherryblock Cabernet Sauvignon with winemaker Mark Bearman. Festive décor is promised. Prices range from $50 to $75 depending on club memberships at Foley's "sister wineries," 1 to 4 p.m. both days. Reserve at sebatiani.com or 933-3230. 369 Fourth St. E., Sonoma.
Community Breakfast returns this Sunday
Last Sunday's Community Breakfast was postponed until this Sunday, Dec.12, so gear up for a hot one at St. Francis Solano's school grounds. Last week's breakfast was delayed a week so the Knights of Columbus could treat Aunt Momo to their holiday dinner in return for all she does to help raise funds for scholarships.
Aunt Momo, her brother Brendan Roche, and the Knights of Columbus crew will offer Egg Nog French Toast this Sunday along with scrambled eggs, link sausages, sautéed vegetables, sautéed potatoes, fruit salad, Momo's version of beignets, and loads of decaf and regular coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. $10 adults, $5 children, $25 family. 8 to 10:30 a.m. Park on the playground off Church Street and Third Street West.
Three Fat Guys Santa and Cab
Santa Claus will visit the Three Fat Guys tasting room on Tuesday, Dec. 14, for a free visit for the whole family (or by yourself for a chat). Enjoy plentiful cookies, candy canes, cider and wine. No reservations needed. 4 to 5 p.m., 20816 Broadway, Sonoma.
Also at the winery, Cuts N Cabs Holiday Edition rolls around on Friday, Dec. 17, where Erik Lowe of Belfare catering will grill New York steak ("the cuts") with rosemary fries paired with a glass of their 2019 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon made by local Jim McMahon. Dungeness crab appetizers and sticky toffee pudding for dessert cost extra, along with additional wine, all served in the tasting room's fun and casual backyard. Club members $50, others $60. 6:30 p.m. Reserve at tfg.com.