Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Spin 12.15.09

Brought to you in part by Hershey's Cocoa!
I took last Friday off in the name of sanity. (While often overrated, it occasionally comes in handy.) After beginning my day with some enlightening reading and an invigorating 7-mile run, I paused for a moment to scowl disapprovingly at the string of tree lights that went out just days after I hung it, before methodically (yet festively) pumping out approximately 75 sandwich cookies. [That's 75 sandwich cookies. I'll just give you a minute to calculate the time, effort, and number of cookie sheets this required.] I was only one day into the weekend and had already burned oodles of calories (primarily from the scowling incident), yet it was all I could do to sample the fruits of my labors before dashing over the Susquehanna and through the central PA woods for the first round of family festivities. Following an icy drive home during which I lost count of the number of wrecked cars I passed, I celebrated the fact that I was still in one piece by busting out my best quill to pen this year's Christmas cards, which may or may not have come with poisonous envelopes. Time will tell whether I ever get full sensation back in my tongue, but I'm hoping for the best.

I'm not sure who wrote "The Twelve Pains of Christmas", but it is my sentiment that this individual should be canonized, or at the very least knighted. Let's see how our friends in the industry are coping with this abundantly joyous season, shall we?

I'm instinctively drawn to my own kind, so naturally I took an immediate liking to a certain holiday event which goes by the title 13 Days of Grinchmas. Sounds good to me! Shall I start tearing down stockings, or focus on confiscating the roast beast? And exactly how soon can we cancel Christmas? Alas, I came to find out that Universal Studios Hollywood was out to capture the essence of the Grinch after his heart grew three sizes. Better luck next year. But if, unlike me, you have yet to become jaded by the hustle and bustle, you just might enjoy building a snowgrinch in the park's snow playground (featuring real snow!), or watching Whoville come to life before your wondering eyes on the very sets where the movie was filmed. The Grinch, his trusty canine companion Max, and all of your Whoville favorites will be present for the nightly tree-lighting ceremony and will even be available for photo ops. The 13-day celebration runs from December 19-31.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom must have caught word that a certain grinchy blogger was on the Christmas warpath, because they've gone so far as to hire some "super spirited sea lions" to "save Christmas from meanies up to no good". [As always, I appreciate the application of alliteration.] It's one of several holiday shows featuring their fine-flippered cast, but that's not all you'll find at the park's third annual Holiday in the Park event. Become a babe all over again in Toy Land, where you'll encounter larger-than-life friends in the form of a nutcracker and teddy bear, just to name a couple. You can also meet all of your holiday favorites, from Frosty to all eight of Santa's reindeer, before watching the big guy himself star in his own nightly parade. And when it comes to catching a ride, you have your choice of the modern-day steel variety or the good old-fashioned traditional variety that takes the form of a sled careening down Blitzen's Wonderland Mountain. Still can't get enough? Come back for their New Year's Eve celebration.

I may openly and unapologetically "bah humbug" many aspects of the holiday season, but spectacular lighting displays are not among them. As a person who can't get five strings of all-white lights to stay lit for one week, I have a great admiration for those wizards of the electrical world who are able to keep millions of variegated lighting masterpieces aglow for an entire season. Take the wizards at Dollywood, for instance. The gorgeous photo above, snapped by NPN's own resident photographer Carol during her and Scott's visit last year, provides but a small taste of what 4 million lights can do for you. If you're not completely awestruck by this display, which comes in stationary, parade, and choreographed form, perhaps you'll realize that the park's Smoky Mountain Christmas event also features scores of live entertainment and shows, including Christmas in the Smokies, Dollywood's Babes in Toyland, and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. And don't forget the Polar Express 4-D Experience, which is sure to cast out any lingering Scrooge-like tendencies. It better, because the man in the big red suit will also be in attendance and he doesn't take kindly to phrases ending in "humbug".

When it comes to the holidays, there are two types of people: those who freely choose to introduce prodigious levels of stress into their lives by turning out batches of 75 cookies at a time (i.e., the "crazies"), and those who would rather just decorate one cookie that somebody else has baked while listening to a fanciful Princess and Knight read them a story. The powers that be at Dutch Wonderland realized that most folks (mercifully) fall into the second camp, and so it was that Dutch Winter Wonderland came to be. In their infinite wisdom, they also recognized that speaking volumes without saying a word (or at least, without giving the appearance of such) is a sacrosanct art form, and thus invited ventriloquist Marian and her friendly puppet pals to join the Dutch "royal family" in spreading seasonal cheer. When combined with a miniature train display, gingerbread house judging, rides, reindeer, and all-around culinary merriment (did I mention you can make your own smores and sundaes as well?), you've got yourself a fairytale holiday celebration that just might be capable of transcending the bakery bonanza which has taken root in your homes.

While you're all living happily ever after at one of these fine events, I'll content myself to live vicariously while furiously churning out more holiday delicacies and making an earnest attempt to refrain from going all-out Grinch on my half-lit tree. Provided that the week progresses without incident, I'll be back with one last obnoxiously festive event round-up before the big day arrives. May the force be with me.