I love living in Shipshewana, IN and I think the best way to explain it is to tell you about my day this past Saturday. Just 1 good day out of many, but a little snap shot of some of the things I hold dearest.
So I got up pretty early to meet the guys from church for one of the fellows’ birthday. We met at the Blue Gate for breakfast. Walking in the front doors gave me this feeling of pride for my hometown. The Blue Gate family always does it up right, creating the atmosphere and delivering an experience worthy of 5 stars (out of 5 of course). They always put out a great spread on their buffet, and our group enjoyed our time of food and fellowship.
A little while later, I took 3 of our kids with me to Yoder’s Department store. They wanted to spend some of their Christmas cash from their grandparents. As we walked in, we were greeted by the smell of freshly popped popcorn. My daughter, age 5 who happens to be a seasoned Yoder’s Hardware shopper, excitedly proceeds to inform her older brothers about the free popcorn here. I often find myself wondering which childhood memories will stick, and come up in conversations as the kids get older. I wonder if this might be one of them…. Remember when we would go to Yoder’s and eat popcorn? Saturday was one of our rare “in no hurry” type of days, and we leisurely strolled the aisles browsing the many items on display. I was impressed with the variety of vintage toys, and found my mind going back to my childhood. One of my sons picked out a pocket watch, of all things. As soon as we were all paid up, we got that thing out and put ‘er to use. The rest of the day was spent confirming the time frequently and flaunting his chain of bling. We walked out of Yoder’s to the sound of live music and the sight of some over the hill chaps enjoying the hickory rockers while taking in the sights and sounds around them.
Since the weather was mild that day, we decided to play follow the leader while riding our bicycles around town. I’m pretty sure this is a memory that will resurface years down the road. We love cruising the sidewalks around the pond at the Farmstead Inn, through the covered bridge, and around the pond at Menno-Hof. What’s Menno-Hof, the kids asked. A museum I am embarrassed I haven’t taken you guys to, I replied. As we pedal on, I am thinking, this is crazy! I would probably drive for hours to visit a place like this, to help my kids understand their heritage, and here is a world class place right in my back yard. I am thinking, man, what a perfect opportunity for all of us merchants to learn more about our area’s culture. Definitely on my bucket list for this next year.
Later that evening, we are heading to the MEC for the show, Noel. As we turn down State Road 5, I about had a fit! Long lines from both North and South waiting to turn in at Lights Of Joy. This warms my heart for a couple of reasons. Of course, I love seeing fellow Merchants be successful, seeing Shipshewana be successful. But what I REALLY love is seeing our little town provide wholesome entertainment and atmosphere to our Visitors. A place where memories are made with those most important. Get off it, my oldest son tells me as I evidently excessively rant and rave about the great turnout that evening.
If you have not seen Noel, go. This show is a class act! I was brought to tears a few times during the show as the cast passionately performed a Christmas-themed musical using some beautiful horses. And I’m here to tell you, Jesus was not just a small part of this show, He was what He ought to be… the Star! So one minute I was crying, the next minute I was laughing, and at one point I could not even watch the Elf on the high swing for fear I would fall off my seat (she is one crazy Elf!). As we were walking out, some folks asked us how late Lights Of Joy was open. I don’t know but I can make a call to find out, I replied. I was tickled to be able to prove that this is my hometown, and here in Shipshewana we know each other.
Driving home, this family of 8 was discussing the show and singing snatches of some of the catchiest Christmas tunes we had heard. Discussing how there were still quite a few cars driving through Lights Of Joy, and how Dad should still Get Off It already. Making memories. I look around the buggy at my family, feeling blessed beyond measure. There is nothing less than a dull roar coming from the back seat as the kids talk over each other in excitement, and one checks his pocket watch for the time. Smile. I love raising my family here. Shipshewana is my town I think, as we drive past the decked-out-to-the-max shops downtown.
Thanks, Father God, I don’t deserve this. But thanks.
Jay Chupp, co-owner of E&S Sales