Christmas shopping in Spencer

To many people, Spencer, Mass. may seem like a podunk town but there’s more here than meets the eye.

A bucolic little town in Central Massachusetts, Spencer is home to a couple of quaint shops where I recently picked up some small Christmas gifts and goodies. The Oakwood Farm Christmas Barn and Trappist Preserves are a stone’s throw from each other, which made my quest for jars of jam and Christmas tree ornaments for my kids’ teachers an easy one.

I started at The Oakwood Farm Christmas Barn, which is an old barn set by a farmhouse chock full of every kind of tree ornament imaginable. They hang from the low ceilings; they adorn the walls. It was a sight to behold for me, but my kids were just entranced by the glinting orbs, shimmering snowflakes and delightful characters.

We couldn’t linger because the ornaments were irresistable and they wanted all of them so after a short while browsing I made our selections and we checked out. I had the distinct sense I had been to Oakwood before but I was too hurried to ponder it so off we went.

A few miles up the road, we entered the grounds of Saint Joseph’s Abby, home to a colony of Trappist Monks since 1950. The Abbey is open to visitors and operates a small gift shop in a white cottage at the entrance of the property where you can find a large variety of Trappist jams made by the monks to help support the order. The jam is available in many New England retail stores but buying it on sight felt special. I went with a port wine variety, to top a baked brie I was planning for Thanksgiving.

I was delighted to find the store also sold some beautiful Christmas decor, ornaments, fudge (apparently another Trappist product) AND some really interesting theological books. I wanted to browse slowly but, alas, the kids in tow were playing with some ceramic ornaments so it was time to leave.

I look forward to visiting the Abbey again in the spring or summer and enjoying the peaceful, sprawling grounds.

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