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Local activities to re-kindle your holiday spirit

You sip a mug of hot chocolate beside the crackling fireplace, taking in the aroma of baking cookies and fresh pine. Or maybe you light the Menorah, treating yourself to latkes and a festive present or two.

It is time for the holidays, for celebration and, in some cases, for a portly, white-bearded man in a velvet suit to sneak into your house while you are sleeping. Not that this concept is strange or anything.

Regardless of how you celebrate, there are a great number of things you can do in the upcoming two weeks to have an amazing time.

To kick off an amazing holiday break, head into Carmel on Friday for the Holiday Tree Lighting. Prepare to sample a lovely selection of packaged cookies and cider and hear the voices of disgruntled middle-school carolers—isn’t this part of the holiday cheer? Even so, if the free food isn’t an incentive, the illuminated tree standing at Junipero Street and Ocean Avenue surely is.

And tonight, as well as Saturday night, Monterey is hosting Christmas in the Adobes, an event that involves walking around Monterey and visiting several historic adobe buildings, each one bearing refreshments and entertainment. Friendly for children as well as adults, this tour takes you through various venues of Monterey and treats you to performances and holiday treats.

Perhaps you are more athletic than this. Ever considered ice skating?

Ice Skating by the Bay offers a seasonal rink behind Monterey’s Portola Hotel & Spa. The rink opened Nov. 17 and closes Jan. 6, conveniently available for the entire winter break. With reasonable prices, why not have a go at it?

Even if you don’t know how to skate, your ineptitude is probably entertaining to other people, and vice versa. Go have a look at others as they stumble on the ice, occasionally tripping, and you will surely have a good laugh.

If skating is not your specialty, or if you fear the prospect of getting up from the couch, cozy up at home to classic holiday movies like A Christmas Story. Young Ralphie may be one of the most memorable Christmas characters as far as holiday movies go. You will surely be entertained watching him pine for a Red Ryder BB Gun, marvel at the infamous leg lamp and complain about the pink bunny suit his aunt forces him to wear.

Rent classics like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to rekindle that holiday spirit from your youth, or settle for more modern movies…Elf, maybe?

With movies, though, certain delicacies are always necessary. This is not a time to pick at your gluten-free tofu and kale salad—this is the season for gingerbread men, sugar cookies and pumpkin spice lattés. Get the family together to frost cookies and build a gingerbread house, or brew some apple cider to sip while enjoying Christmas films.

There are always those families that excessively don their properties with blow-up reindeer, energy-consuming lights and slightly creepy elf dolls, expressing the holiday spirit of several homes combined. If you are interested in seeing how these people decorate their streets, hop in the car and drive to Candy Cane Lane in Pacific Grove a few days before Dec. 25.

Are holiday tunes more of your thing? If you enjoy soulful singers, go for Ella Fitzgerald’s Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas or Elvis Presley’s Blue Christmas—a sure favorite. If you’re looking for something your mother will love, pick up a Michael Bublé Christmas album and you will be venerated for years.

This season, remove yourself from the anti-social confinements of your room and have a great time. After all, the holidays only come once a year.

-Jackie Mauldwin

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