Holiday Profile: Wren & Sparrow
If feathered friends have you thinking of spring walks, think again. Winter is the ideal time to discover the beauty of birds. Also in this issue - Start a holiday tradition with your family
by Martin Davis
Business Name: Wren & Sparrow
Location: 807 Caroline Street
Regular Business Hours: Wednesday - Monday, 10 AM - 6 PM. Open late on First Fridays; extended holiday shopping hours on Fridays and Saturdays through December.
Amy Gardner lights up when she talks about birds. So, too, her business partner Lisa Benoit. It’s something that more than a few people have noticed.
(Editor’s Note: Lisa wasn’t working the day we visited, but we have seen her brighten up through the years whenever birds are the topic.)
“We have that passion for birds,” Gardner recently told FXBG Advance. For Amy and Lisa, being in business is about one thing: helping others know they joy they’ve found through birding.
“We’re not trying to be everything to everyone,” Gardner said. Rather, we want to “be the people you respect and trust.”
Clearly, a lot of people in and around Fredericksburg appreciate their approach to business. Wren & Sparrow opened during the pandemic, in February 2021, and business is booming.
“We’ve been embraced by the community,” Gardner said, and “we want to help the community learn more” about taking care of the birds.
Winter, it turns out, is prime birding season.
“This time of year,” according to Gardner, “people are looking to make sure their birds are safe and healthy.”
To that end, they come to the store looking for roosting pockets, and suet. “Birds can burn off so much body fat at night trying to stay warm,” Gardner said.
People are looking for more than goods, however. They’re also in search of information.
“People come asking about the migratory birds that come from up north to stay with us during the winter,” Gardner said. (Juncos, it seems, are a favorite.) Customers also come to Amy and Lisa for bird walks.
“The winter is the time to go bird watching,” Gardner said, “because you can see them in the trees.”
Amy and Lisa have partnered with the Fredericksburg Park and Recs Department to offer bird walks in Old Mill Park the first and third Tuesdays from November through March. Just sign-up in advance.
Three Questions for the Owners
FXBG Advance: What are the three most unusual birds in our area?
Amy Gardner: Oh my - Lisa is better at this than me. But here goes:
Gary the goose. Here’s the thing about Gary. It’s best not to feed him, but if you do, don’t give him processed food. Give him cracked corn.
FXBG Advance: What’s your bestseller?
Gardner: Hands down, our house blend seed. It contains peanuts and sunflowers with no shells. All birds that come to the feeder can eat it.
Our second bestseller is hot pepper seed. Squirrels are either your nemesis or your best friend. Hot pepper seed keeps them away from your feeder, but the heat doesn’t bother the birds.
FXBG Advance: Most surprising thing you’ve learned in business?
Gardner: The popularity of bird baths as impulse purchases. In all our research, we didn’t realize so many people would walk by, see them, and decide to buy them.
15 Fun Christmas Traditions to Start with Your Family
By Rhiannon Ellis
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in our sister publican, Fredericksburg Parent & Family.
The holiday season is truly a magical time of year, and part of what makes it so memorable and joyous are the traditions we share with our loved ones, many of which have been passed down from one generation to the next.
Some of the most practiced Christmas traditions include holiday decorating, lots of cooking and eating, and exchanging gifts, but there are literally hundreds of big and small ways to add sparkle to your family’s holiday experience.
We’ve compiled a list of 15 traditions to keep you and your family busy making memories together this Christmas.
1. Host a Christmas sing-along. This is a fun and simple way to get together with family and friends for something other than food and gifts this holiday season. You can gather around a piano or use a karaoke machine. If you’re worried that your guests will be too embarrassed to take part, be sure to add some extroverts to the invite list to get things going.
2. Start a collection. It can be an ornament, a decorative item or even a piece of holiday China or crystal. Pick something Christmassy to collect and add to it every year.
3. Homemade ornaments. Crafty families can keep busy all season (or even all year) long by making ornaments for an entirely homemade Christmas tree—from the topper to the skirt and everything in between!
4. Set shoes out for St. Nick. December 6 marks the Feast of Saint Nicholas. Families all around the world celebrate by leaving their shoes (or stockings) out on the evening of December 5 for St. Nick to fill with small gifts and treats. Some children even leave their letters to Santa on this night instead of mailing them.
5. Host a Christmas movie trivia night—for the grownups! Date night! Google “Christmas trivia” and you will find countless results for trivia question ideas and free (or cheap) printables. Make it extra fun by wearing ugly Christmas sweaters and serving up holiday cocktails.
6. Try a new holiday recipe. More than likely, your family members have their must-have, all-time favorite dishes they want served every year. But why not add to the menu, or replace a less desirable item with something totally new?
7. Be charitable. Pick a cause to support each year by donating time, money or goods. You can stick with the same one or switch it up. Some popular holiday charities include Angel Tree, local homeless shelters/soup kitchens, food banks and clothing drives.
8. Movie marathon. Pick a day to sit around in your Christmas pjs and binge-watch all your favorite movies of the season. This can be a family day or even a playdate for the kids and their friends. Or do both!
9. Countdown to Christmas with books! Instead of a traditional advent calendar to count down the days to December 25, invest in a collection of Christmas books and read one to the kids each night before bed, starting on the day after Thanksgiving, December 1, or any date you choose. It might take a few years to build your collection, so start with a week or two before Christmas and lengthen the countdown as your inventory grows.
10. Be neighborly. Hosting a neighborhood cookie swap not only fills your pantry with goodies, it’s also an opportunity to make new friends. Expand your baking horizons by having everyone include the recipe along with their treats.
11. Get creative. Some of us are stuck on our traditional meal—turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc. But not everyone enjoys the typical holiday fare, so don’t be afraid to branch out and do something different. Plan your menu around a theme (i.e., Italian, Indian or Chinese cuisine), or make reservations and eat out. Larger families can even host a potluck where everyone brings a non-traditional side or dessert.
12. Take part in winter activities. Go outside and play together as a family—winter style! Ice skating, sledding, skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, tubing, and playing in the snow are all fun ways to enjoy winter and stay active.
13. Go to local holiday events. Most communities have tree lightings, parades and other events around the holidays. Most are free and kid-friendly. Check out your county’s calendar or local Parks and Rec for offerings.
14. Honor a loved one. If you’re missing someone this Christmas, consider honoring them in a special way. It can be a donation made in their name, hanging up a special memorial ornament, making a memory wreath, or planting a tribute tree.
15. Take a trip. Some folks revel in the chaos of Christmas, but some really don’t. If your family dreads or just isn’t excited about the holiday season, maybe it’s time for a break. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on traditional holiday trappings, plan a vacation. Go make your family holiday memories at a ski resort or at the beach.
However you choose to celebrate the season, do what works for you and your family. Adopt new traditions, ditch old ones that no longer serve you, and simply enjoy being present with the ones who matter the most. Merry Christmas!
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-Martin Davis, Editor
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