Celebrate the Holidays

     Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the holiday season has begun.
     I love the holidays.
     From Thanksgiving (the BEST dinner of the year) to Christmas (crisp, cold weather; fresh, fallen snow; a rotund man in a red suit who brings gifts) to the dawning of a new year (reflection, redemption, rejoicing); there are plenty of good vibes to go around.
     More than anything, I think it’s the message of the season that I enjoy the most.
     Thanksgiving kicks it off with a day to reflect on the people and events of the past year, and to express gratitude for the good things in life.
     Next, it’s the craze of Christmas: 20-plus days of  shopping, social events and spiritual redemption.
     Finally, we say sayonara to the previous year – usually with laughter, tears and a sigh of relief; and “Hola!” – with that eternal American optimism – to a year of hope and promise.
     There has been plenty to rejoice this year: a new American president, amazing stories of perseverance and courage from everyday citizens, great strides in the sciences, fabulous music and entertainment, and other miracles of life.
     Tragedy has also been present in 2009: major job losses and other economic hardships for many throughout the country and the world, devastating natural disasters, casualties of the wars and senseless violence, and disease.
     I hope 2010 has more joy and less pain (although it really does tend to even out, doesn’t it?).
     I wish my friends, family and YOU a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season.    

Here are a few “Holiday Happenings” guaranteed to get you into a joyful spirit:
– Celebrate life and remember those who have lost theirs to AIDS during a local event for World AIDS Day, starting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1 at Wisner Park and Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Elmira. There will be several activities including a candlelight walk, a play, music by the Elmira Free Academy Choir and Jose Gomez, refreshments and more.

– Catch the Christmas classic “The Russian Nutcracker,” performed by the Rafael Grigorian Ballet Theatre, at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Clemens Center in Elmira; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6 at the Broome County Forum in Binghamton.

– Learn how the holidays were celebrated in the “olden” days at the Chemung Valley History Museums program, “Holidays with the Clemens,” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 at the museum, 415 E. Water St. in downtown Elmira. Kids can learn how to make several crafts from the Victorian era. Get details at the museum’s Web site.

Family Sparkle, 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 at Rockwell Museum of Western Art, 111 Cedar St. in Corning. Join in the art hunt and craft project, and check out the museum’s latest exhibit “Las Artes de Mexico.”

Sparkle, 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, historic Market Street in downtown Corning. Enjoy live entertainment, craft and food vendors, horse and carriage rides and much more.

Christmas in Pumps Drag Show/Benefit, 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Starlite  Room, 3018 Lake Road in Elmira Heights. The event includes a wine tasting, silent auction and super fabulous drag show to raise money for Diversity Rules magazine. Cover is $10 with proceeds going to pay the magazine’s publishing costs. Call (607) 731-7953 or 733-3333 to reserve a table (they go quick).

25th annual Holiday Home Tour fundraiser for the Near Westside Neighborhood Association, Inc. takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6 at various locations throughout Elmira’s Westside. Get into the holiday spirit by checking out these festive abodes. Receptions follow both tours. Visit the Website for details.

– The Arnot Mall in Big Flats will have several holiday performances from area musical and performance groups throughout December. Visit the link for information on Santa’s photo schedule, when performances are held and more.

Kenny Rogers brings Christmas to the Twin Tiers with his Christmas & Hits Tour at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 at First Arena in downtown Elmira. Hear traditional Christmas songs as well as Rogers’ classics. Tickets range from $39.50 to $69.50. Visit the Web site for information and tickets.

– The Corning Museum of Glass will get you in a jolly spirit at 2300 Degrees: Home Cookin’, which takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17. Enjoy great tunes performed by the Sim Redmond Band, hot glass shows, treats to nosh and more. The event is free. CMOG has several great events that can help you with your holiday gift giving so be sure to check out the link for a schedule.

– Ring in the New Year at a swanky soiree at the Clemens Center in downtown Elmira. Enjoy dance music from the 1940s to today, live performances by female impersonators, hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast and more from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 31. Tickets are $100 per couple, $60 per person. Only 200 tickets are being sold, so get yours today by calling (607) 731-7953, 259-1330, or 767-1735, or visit the Web site.