This has been, for our nation, a year marked by discord, divisiveness, tragedies and protests, but here in the Nick (pun intended) of time come the holidays for which writer Hamilton Wright Mabie had this to say: “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
Whatever your beliefs, opinions or traditions, there is magic to be found in December—a return to a child-like state of wonder and joy at beautifully festooned trees and homes, light-trimmed gardens and city streets, family and friends gathered close once more and remembrances of years past reflected in everything old and familiar coming around once more.
With all that beckons, celebrating can become overwhelming, but put aside the push to do it all and focus on the simplicities that satisfy the senses and create heartwarming memories. Strolls through NC Arboretum’s Winter Lights exhibit or Dillsboro’s Festival of Lights and Luminaries (p. 90) celebrate our longing for brilliance at this time of year when days grow shorter and colder.
Then there are the familiar sounds of the season. Christmas concerts abound from Jamie Laval’s Celtic Christmas (p. 104) to A Swannanoa Solstice (p. 96) Our Spotlight On feature showcases Academy for the Arts (p. 92) and their free holiday concert. There are magical holiday performances at Flat Rock Playhouse (p. 40) and Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre (p. 7).
For those who don’t want to brave the malls, many towns offer holiday strolls where families can find quaintness, atmosphere and an array of tasty local products, functional handmade items and distinctive works of art. Weaverville (p. 47), Black Mountain (p. 20) and Hendersonville (p. 42) are among the towns celebrating traditional fun and small-town shopping.
‘Tis the season…. Be merry