Literature has a common theme of redemption in which the simpler things in life are found to be more rewarding than things we strive for and hold up as valuable. As The Hobbit’s Thorin says, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” Marley’s ghost imparts much the same wisdom to that miserable old miser Scrooge when he tells him that the real business in life is “charity, mercy, forbearance, [and] benevolence.”
What a perfect time of year to recall this lesson. So many individual traditions and customs, the old familiar songs and stories, good food and family togetherness. Who needs gold? Or the chain of “cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds and heavy purses wrought in steel” that weighs Marley down in the afterlife?
In WNC, a bounty of experiential gifts offer enjoyment for all ages. Visit hometown celebrations in Burnsville and Waynesville. There are Christmas plays at Attic Salt Theatre and Black Mountain Center for the Arts, and holiday exhibitions and markets in galleries and towns everywhere.
In all our revelry, we should not forget those for whom holiday only highlights a lack of food, housing or companionship. Charles Dickens, credited with reinventing Christmas celebrations, calls this the time of year when “men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely and to think of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
There are many ways to help this holiday season. We visit with some who seek to provide warmth and food to those in need, including Black Mountain’s annual Deck the Trees and Mountain Projects in Haywood County. Asheville’s Winter Wonder Walk offers holiday joy for young hearts while raising funds for MANNA FoodBank. And read about a program at West Asheville’s Tastee Diner where wooden nickels are the currency of kindness.
Warm wishes this holiday season from all of us at The Laurel of Asheville!