Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Amish Christmas Dinner

When some friends invited us for a Christmas celebration at an Amish home in nearby Arthur, IL, we were intrigued. We’ve lived in Central Illinois for over ten years, and had seen many horses and buggies on the highways just an hour from here. But we’d never had the privilege to visit in the home of one of these wonderful people. After all, you can’t just walk up their driveway, knock on the back door and ask, “May I see how you live? I’ve read several novels about your lifestyle, and want to observe firsthand how realistically they portray you.” This invitation gave us a rare opportunity, and we gratefully accepted.

On our arrival, we were greeted by a young man of around twenty who showed us where to put our coats, and the way to the dining hall. They had a huge room just off the kitchen that held eight or ten long tables, each seating eight people. This is where they hold their church meetings on Sundays. The families take turns hosting the worship services, so many of them have added these rooms to their homes.

The hostess of the celebration became acquainted with an Amish family when she sold Tupperware to them. Fifteen Christmases ago, she asked if she might pay them to cook a Christmas dinner for her sales crew, and they agreed. The dinner has grown to over seventy people, and the Amish women who serve the meal spend the entire day cooking.

And do they cook! Mashed potatoes that melt on your tongue, noodles cut thin, bursting with real butter, fresh homemade breads and jam, savory meatloaf, crisply fried chicken, and a variety of flakey-crusted pies for dessert. They serve family-style, starting the bowls at one end of the each table, allowing everyone to serve themselves as the food is passed. After the first “round,” they begin again, in case anyone needs seconds. I won’t need to eat for a week.

Every inch of the house gleamed. If I had dropped a slice of bread on the pristine linoleum, I’d have no qualms about eating it—five second rule or not!

The walls were decorated with Scripture plaques, wood-burned signs commemorating their children’s marriages, and shelves that held antique clocks and books.
The bathroom was divided up into two rooms side by side, each with a toilet. On the wall near the door was a plastic light fixture backing with a sign reading, “Amish Light Switch” and a portion from a match box to strike a match on—showing their sense of humor. Above the toilet on a shelf was a battery operated lamp, casting a soft light.

A larger room adjoining those two held a sink. This room was also the walkway between the kitchen and the back door, where a buggy and horse awaited anyone wanting to take a ride. The same smiling young man who greeted us on our arrival hitched up a dark beauty named Ruby for our jaunt.

Please join me Friday when I share how a few of the preconceived notions I held about the Amish got beautifully ruined…

Have you read Amish novels? Met any Amish? What were your impressions?


  1. We did travel to Pennsylvania Amish country years ago and took the requisite buggy tour.

    My kids blanced at the no electricity lifestyle but LOVED the hearty meal served at an Amish restaurant. Yeast rolls, taste good veggies...

    Thanks for the memories!


  2. I've never had the joy of meeting anyone Amish. They seem to be a fascinating culture bursting with intrigue.

    Looking forward to hearing more!

  3. Jeanette, thanks for visiting my blog and for posting your comment! I think the little boy allowed me to take his picture because nobody else was around. If his parents had been present, I probably wouldn't have been so bold about asking for his photo!

  4. Hi Jen -

    I've visited Lancaster County in PA many times, but have not been in any Amish homes. I do know a woman, who grew up Amish, but she left the community in Ohio.

    We did go to a restaurant owned by Amish folks. I asked a young Amish girl where I could find the restroom, but she got a bit flustered and had someone else help me. I think there was a bit of a language barrier.

    How neat that you got such a rare opportunity!

    Susan :)

  5. I've never had the privilege of visiting Amish families, but would love to. Thanks for sharing some Amish truths!

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  7. My father is friends with some northern Michigan Amish, but I haven't had the pleasure of meeting them. Your description of the dinner made me very hungry--especially for noodles!

  8. What a delightful adventure! I've eaten at Amish restaurants in central Ohio during trips there, and I agree, the food is out of this world. My impressions of the Amish is a kind and sweet spirit that we would do well to imitate more!

  9. Sounds like a wonderful evening with lovely new friends! :O)

  10. Yes, I got hooked on the lovely novels by Beverly Lewis. I have always loved the Amish. I think their little boys with the blunt haircuts and big brimmed hats are just out of this world adorable.

  11. Jeanette:
    When I worked in the library, I met some Old German Baptist who have similar beliefs.
    I have read Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter. I notices so variations about their courting rituals.

    I enjoyed the books by both authors.

  12. Thank you for sharing this! When I met my birth-family I was surprised to learn that I come from a Mennonite background. The Mennonites are an off-shoot of the Amish. I love the Amish books by Beverly Lewis.


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