Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

I feel like I missed nearly all of Christmas in Charleston.

I feel like I missed all of the New Year’s activities also, because, well, I did.

But most of all, I missed Charleston itself.  Being gone half a month from this place will do that to you.  Contending with walking the dog on a solid sheet of ice for half a month certainly contributed to the sentiment.

The hotel is back in business in the coming few months, with a multitude of visitors already reserved for lodging on Wentworth Street.

We’ll be out and about living our lives again in the Holy City, our now-one-year-old 70 pound “puppy” in tow.  Kids grow up so quickly.


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This is one of those rare occurrences where I’ll let Suz’s lame placeholder title remain.

I’m not exactly sure what Suz’s uber-productive mentality when I’m in absentia says about our relationship.

Does my semi-slothlike presence hinder her naturally occurring sparks of ingenuity and creativity?

This girl makes lists when I’m gone.  Projects galore.  Baking to excess.

When I arrived in Raleigh after a visit to the Bluegrass on the 30th, her enthusiasm for all that she had accomplished in the days prior was palpable.  A light box had (nearly) been constructed, multiple parties had been hosted, and pounds of deliciousness concocted, simmered, and spiced.  Then I settle into the family home and we spend a day lounging around watching Mad Men.

Was it me?  Did I suck the life out of the room of this productive family?  Or was I welcome reprieve, a counterbalance?

Yeah, I’ll go with that for my own self esteem.

I’ll be making my return to Charleston this afternoon.  Hope you got your shot at partaking in Suzanne’s creativity while it lasted.

Perhaps changing this whole situation should have been my worthwhile New Year’s resolution.

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An ice storm moving swiftly into the Bluegrass last Wednesday resulted in us having to condense all of our holiday plans into one short evening, which included our first go-around at James Island County Park to see what amounted to the most spectacular display of electrical Christmas cheer this side of the Griswold House, or to a lesser degree, those crazies on that one show on television.







With an onslaught of family Christmas activities in the next two days, this post on the lights James Island County Park will also be condensed into a much shorter product than I would like.

From the different themed areas of lights to Santa’s insanely elaborate village, complete with both members of the Claus couple getting their ears bent by eager kids, a full service train, sand sculptures, absurdly sugary hot chocolate, crafts, and rides too small for me to spend a night upon screaming my head off, the display was pretty unreal.  It took us almost 2 hours to see everything there was to offer and the (at the time) frigid temperatures added to the atmosphere of a real life Christmas community.

I’ll let Suzanne’s photos do the rest of the talking.  I need to get busy reading my copy of Black’s Law Dictionary.

Yes, I actually requested that for Christmas.

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We have a (hopefully) pretty good post coming soon on the James Island County Park Christmas Lights, which will probably be the least negative group of paragraphs I have ever strung together in my life.

For now, I’m slightly hunkered down in Lexington, Kentucky with the mongrel, having departed our fair Holy City a day earlier than anticipated due to an impending deluge of freezing rain. Suz is manning the fort in Charleston, probably happy to be devoid of constant basketball games on TV and tumbleweeds of golden retriever hair traveling wispily along the floor like a scene out of some sort of more sinister Midwestern Dust Bowl.

So, in absence of anything of substance, here’s a photo of our dog with her moose.

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Within every adult, there lies a 2 year old child.

For example, I laugh at flatulence.  Sure, part of the reason for that is I’m a full-blooded American male but, also, there is a part of me that is two years old.  I also laugh at butt jokes.  If I live to be 99, I will still find humor in these things, under most circumstances.  A slow-moving female in Harris Teeter breaking wind right in front of us as we walk down the freezer section aisle = no laughing matter.

Yesterday, we indulged in a facet of Suzanne’s inner 2-year old by attending the Middleton Inn Gingerbread Workshop.  After a little bit of confusion discerning within which building the workshop was being held, I was thrown headlong into a situation I have always deemed a personal hell:  a room full of screaming children.  It’s not like I didn’t expect there to be a million kids at a gingerbread house workshop and it’s not like the kids were doing anything outside of the normal kid-like things.   Regardless, I immediately started grinding my teeth.

Suzanne went to check in.

The volunteer working the desk surveyed us, then said, “Oh, there’s two of you. No children? Hey Greg, we need to get a table for two adults.  No kids with them.”

Instantly, I burned a hole through Suzanne as a flood of quasi-embarassment and ridiculously unnecessary stress came over me.

“Did you hear that? Did you? God.  This is fantastic.”  Sarcasm has seldom been more thickly laid.

Suzanne just glared back at me in a “lighten up, this is my outing.  Plus, I let you laugh at flatulence on tv earlier today” way.  She scurried to our designated table.  I followed despondently, shuffling my feet with the posture of the guy in the green shirt dancing during A Charlie Brown Christmas.

I sat down slowly.  Immediately, a fever pitch of screams began to build around me.  It started with a few exclamations of “Hey! They have gumdrops here!” and quickly evolved into a swarming mass of shrill voices and hyper movements that threatened to send me into a deep dark oblivion of annoyance.

But then, at what appeared to be the pinnacle of my darkest hour, I became cognizant of the fact that the two women sitting directly next to us were also childless (at least for this event).  We weren’t the only pair of adults-only. Actually, we weren’t even close to being the only ones, as a subsequent scanning of the room revealed.  Then, I noticed something else, a little beyond the two women.  Resting on a table against the wall resided a plate of mini barbeque sandwiches.  And even more astounding, next to these sandwiches stood a cauldron of spicy gumbo.

My despair began to wane.

And then I peered across the table at my gleeful girlfriend, who had just returned from a foray into the depths of an ocean of child screams to retrieve a King’s ransom of candies for our gingerbread house:  mints, chocolate chips, licorice, mints, marshmellows, gumdrops, and the like.  The look on her face was pure happiness.  Everyone around me looked the same way.

I stopped being a Scrooge almost immediately.  Not only did I soften up a lot to the experience, I actually ended up having a really good time constructing our house and by the midway point of our construction endeavor, I was really enjoying the sheer amount of excitement and holiday cheer in the room, wishing I had been as open-minded about the experience from the outset as everyone else seemed to be.

Point blank:  the Middleton Inn Gingerbread House Workshop is one of the most fun Christmas-y activities we have found in the Charleston area and is one of the most fun Christmas-y activities I have personally ever participated in anywhere.

While our own home building skills probably need more than a little fine-tuning, as well as our snowman building skills (see accompanying photo…creepster), this certainly was not the case for many other families in the room.  We were amazed some of the ideas people developed for their own projects.  Many seemed like seasoned veterans in the gingerbread building arts.  It appeared that most of the managing of the construction came from the adults while the kids devoured many of the roofing, siding, and chimney materials moments after they were installed on the structure.  The adults replaced these materials cheerfully.

I would assume there were quite a few upset stomachs later that evening from the bevy of sugar intake. I would also assume, when considering the pure happiness that accompanied the entire workshop, the parents didn’t mind one bit either.

Next year, there will be no teeth grinding, despondency, or embarrassment. There will be a little bit of anticipation.

Next year, there will be no hobbit hut.  We’re making the Taj Mahal.

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Do you feel that, Charleston?

What I am referencing is that enhanced, almost exhilarating buzz in the air as you walk around downtown.  The Holy City is well-known for its ever-present bustle and its very small degree of hustle in that bustle. Charleston moves to its own beat and that includes out-of-towners when they are immersed in its aura. But during the holiday season, this non-hustly bustle becomes a bit more concentrated, as the merry throngs peer eagerly into the glittery doorways of shops emitting Christmas tunes looking for that perfect gift.

At times, these glittery doorways are accompanied by charity bell ringers, whose jolly jingle and warm smiles add to the lift in the atmosphere.

The city’s multitude of street performers, fixtures that, over time, become such a common sight that you almost don’t recognize they are around, have a kick to their step and a renewed vigor to their playing. Maybe it’s the larger-the-usual accumulation of coins and bills in their instrument cases.

There’s a lot to see out there and lot of happy faces and we’re going to do our best to document it this season.

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