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The Christmas “Tree” from Vista Lights

I am such a Christmas girl! I love the holiday season (and by holiday season, I mean Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve/Day). And for me, Christmas starts the DAY after Thanksgiving. Really even on the car ride home from Thanksgiving dinner. At that point I’m all stuffed full of turkey and cranberry sauce, feeling all good about family and whatnot, and I am ready for some Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

Our tree (and coffee table decorations) this year

The Friday after Thanksgiving, which some people refer to as Black Friday, to me just means the first day of CHRISTMAS!!! Every year, I start decorating the house on this day.

I grew up with a fake tree (don’t hate!), but Brian and I have started a little tradition of picking out a real tree the day after Thanksgiving.

We drove out to Hollow Creek Tree Farm, where they have hayrides, hot chocolate, and Christmas trees galore. Our favorite is the Fraser Fir, which is not grown in South Carolina, but has to be imported from North Carolina.

We picked out our tree, headed home, and I immediately started pulling down all of my treasures from Christmases past: garlands, ornaments, ribbons, stockings…and I decorated my little heart out. From the tree to the hearth to the coffee table and even the bar, there is a little bit of Christmas in our house just about everywhere you look.

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“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…”

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Our watchdog, Cooper, guarding the house (and the PRESENTS!)

The glow of the Christmas tree lights first thing in the morning and in the evenings when the sun goes down (WAY too early these days…) is just such a comforting sight. And yes, I do turn them on FIRST thing in the morning, and they are the LAST thing to be turned off at night!

I also love all of the community happenings this time of year. Even though it’s like 75 degrees outside, #famouslyhot Columbia still has its charming little mini-festivals, such as Vista Lights, where they light an enormous BUSH on Gervais Street downtown.

The funny thing is that this bush is always there, but you never really notice it until they pop a stage next to it and throw some lights on it. But it’s still a fun, quirky little “ceremony” that I love to attend whenever possible. (Fun fact: the Governor lights the State House tree on a separate occasion. Many people – including myself – are confused about this when attending Vista Lights for the first time.)

After the tree lighting, I love to stroll along Gervais Street, run into people I know, and sample delicious (but maybe a little pricey) treats and sips along the street, which is completely shut down for several blocks.

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From when I was in “White Christmas” at Town Theatre last year (I played the bimbo, Rita)

Each of the little “districts” of downtown Columbia has its own night of holiday festivities. Devine Street has its Devine Night Out (which for some reason this year was like 2 weeks before Thanksgiving…), Five Points has A Starry Night, and the Historic District puts on its candlelit historic house tours and carriage rides!

For me, Christmas encompasses all of these things. It’s not just one day. It’s the shopping, the parties, the events, the decorations, the music, the GOODIES (one of my personal favorites: mulled wine)…

And most of all, Christmas is a time to remember the true reason we celebrate: the birth of Jesus Christ – our God putting on flesh and walking here on earth with us. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of the feel-good-ness of the season, but He is the real reason that I even have anything to celebrate. I hope you have something to celebrate, as well!

Welcome to the Christmas season! And in the words of A Christmas Carol‘s Tiny Tim, “God bless us, every one.”

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