by Valerie Nusbaum

It’s that time of year again. Some would say it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Andy Williams certainly felt that way, but then he sold over a million copies of his recording and was dancing all the way to the bank.

The holiday season is filled with traditions, and we all seem a bit obsessed with making meaningful memories, don’t we? We wear ourselves out with decorating, shopping, baking, wrapping, entertaining, and all the other things associated with making the holidays perfect for ourselves and our families.

Randy and I have had a long-standing tradition of doing at least one thing out of the ordinary every year at this time. Sometimes, it’s a simple thing and sometimes it’s a bit more involved, but we always make the effort to have a special outing of some sort. It helps us to de-stress and gives us an opportunity to have some fun while we’re making those memories. Plus, it usually doesn’t require either of us to cook, clean, shop, or do any of that regular stuff.

My hubby loves the story of A Christmas Carol. He says he can identify with Ebenezer Scrooge, but I know he’s an old softie. I’ve seen him with a tear in his eye more than once while we’ve watched a performance of this play. We’ve seen it at The Maryland Theatre and at The Weinberg. I think one version was a musical. Whenever we could do it, we invited Randy’s parents and my mom along, too. Randy and I both fell asleep during one show; but in our defense, we were tired from all the holiday preparations and the theater was dark and warm. Grab a nap whenever you can, I always say, especially now.

Randy fell asleep during a performance of The Nutcracker at The Weinberg Center, too. I didn’t mind that he slept while the show was going on. He’s not a big fan of ballet. However, when he didn’t wake up at intermission, and started snoring loudly, sliding off his aisle seat as people were walking past to use the restroom, I did get a little embarrassed.

We went to the Cowboy Christmas dinner and show twice, once on our own and once with our parents. It was well worth it to take the older folks because seeing three 80-year-olds throwing sock balls at a bandit was very entertaining. When the star of the show accidentally fell off his horse onstage, my mother-in-law couldn’t stop laughing. We even took a family photo to commemorate the occasion.

My mom and I took a bus trip one year to the Reading outlets and Cabela’s, and we also visited Koziar’s Christmas Village. I have no idea where that was, but it was a fun side trip. There were a bazillion lights and shopping and hot chocolate. I enjoyed it enough that I took Randy back there, and he liked it, too.

Many years ago, Randy and I invited our parents, including my dad, to join us for dinner at The Cozy in Thurmont. There was to be caroling and the lighting of the decorations and trees, and I think Santa may have been there, too. The parents grumbled about us making them stand outside in the rain, and our server told us such a hard-luck story that her tip was enormous, but it was still a nice evening. The Cozy was always a fun holiday outing, and we had breakfast with Santa there more times than I can count.

Another annual tradition for us has been a visit to Eyler’s Valley Chapel for a candlelight service, as well as services at other local churches. There have been parties and get-togethers too numerous to mention. Once, Randy insisted that we host a party for twenty friends and do a Yankee swap. It didn’t go well. No one understood what to do, and my friend Cheryl was upset when I took her cookies.

Randy and I enjoy taking one or two shopping days every year, and we especially like going somewhere we’ve never been before. We’ve tried every outlet center in four states. One of our repeat places is the Utz factory in Hanover, Pennsylvania. There’s something to be said for a factory tour and/or an outlet store where we get free stuff and samples.

We love going to tree farms to buy a Christmas tree and fresh greens. I especially like the farms that sell hot chocolate and have restrooms. A carriage ride is always a good idea, too, unless the horse has been eating something disagreeable. We’ve done the holiday house tour; driven through light displays at Crumland Farms; and a few years back, we took my mom and spent Christmas at The Dunes Manor in Ocean City. It was a tough year for us and it was good to get away, see the ocean, and have a delicious dinner that none of us had to cook.

This year, Randy and I are doing something we’ve never done before. We’re setting up as vendors at the Holiday Shoppers Fair in Ocean City, Maryland, during Thanksgiving weekend. We’ve celebrated Thanksgiving in Ocean City once before, but this year we’ll be working and have no idea what to expect, especially with COVID still out there. At the very least, it will probably give me something to write about next year.

Whatever your traditions, we wish you all a wonderful holiday season.

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