It’s a pleasure for me to introduce you to today’s guest, Christen Hammons, who shares her words from Southern California where she savors warm cups of tea, knitting on Sundays and always relishes reading a good book. Christen is the Director of Publishing/Editor-in-Chief at Stampington and Company, as well as the editor of the book-azine Bella Grace Magazine , devoted to living an extraordinary life through embracing life’s imperfections – and photographing them – and this is how we met last year!
I like to think that the holidays bring out the best in us. Well, most of us. I also like to think that deep down, most of us want the same thing: to find that place where we belong, something that looks and feels different for each of us.
I was born and raised in a suburb of Los Angeles. My parents still live in the same house they bought right after their wedding 39 years ago. Much of my childhood and early adulthood was filled with traffic, smog, and life lived very fast. Unlike my friends who had dreams of moving up the freeway to Downtown LA, I always longed to move to a small town, one where everyone knew each other and life was lived at a much slower pace. Nothing sounded more ideal than an afternoon strolling down Main Street, stopping to chat with everyone.
When I first began dating my now husband, he took me to the downtown area of his hometown, which is in Orange, just a half-hour south of where I grew up. It was everything I had dreamed of: a couple blocks’ worth of antique shops, restaurants, and people sitting on benches enjoying coffee or their latest book of choice. I knew instantly that this was where I wanted to be. And it’s where I am now.
It sounds cliché, but we’ve found a place where everyone — or maybe just a few people — know our name. The bartenders at the gastropub greet us enthusiastically when we walk in. We see friends walking their dogs down the street. We have a “usual” at the coffee shop. We love our neighborhood and community and though it’s not exactly the small town I craved so much growing up, it’s as close to it as I’ll get here.
Just days away is the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony — yes, they have one. They shut down the street to traffic, invite local choirs, and the community comes together to usher in the holiday season. Strangers say hello, neighbors catch up on the latest happenings … for just those few hours everyone is happy and kind. We will all savor strolling about the twinkle light-laden streets, coffee or tea in hand. We will all feel like we belong to something, if only for that day.
I love this little community where time seems to have stood still. I love the people I’ve met and built friendships with because of it. I love that I’ve found a place where I belong.
Christen Hammons is editor-in-chief of Bella Grace and director of publishing for Stampington and Company. She is a lover of books, yarn, and hockey. She lives in Orange, California with her husband and their two cats, two chickens, and one scruffy pup.
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As you know, we believe that photography is a solo pursuit made much more enjoyable when practiced with the support of a community. So we are excited to announce that during the month of December we are celebrating YOU, our wonderful community, by giving away a copy of Bella Grace Magazine each week!
So how do you get a chance to win your copy of Bella Grace? It’s easy! Just share your images celebrating your community on Instagram and hashtag them with #bellagraceview #viewfindersio and #bellagracemagazine. Then, follow us both at @viewfinders_io and @bellagracemagazine. We’ll be featuring our favorites and announcing our winners on the Viewfinders Instagram account each Friday for the next 5 weeks. We can’t wait to see your view!