November 27, 2016

Editorial: Holidays in Worcester, full steam ahead

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Terageorge/Wikimedia Commons

Worcester City Hall

Thanksgiving — check. Let’s see, was there something else on the list?

Oh, yes, the entire month of December.

That over-the-top time of year is coming at us nonstop. There’s only one sensible solution: Get on board the Holiday Express, and enjoy it to the max.

Denholm's, as always, will play a large role in the city's holiday celebrations.

Patrick Sargent / For Worcester Sun

Denholm’s, as always, will play a large role in the city’s holiday celebrations.

This year, we’re making a plan. That’s the plan, anyway.

The city’s done its part. It’s put together a list of “Holiday Happenings 2016” that — if there were time — would make for some pretty good reading by the fire, especially with wine or hot chocolate at hand.

Peruse the list this morning, though, and the very first item might make you plop the coffee cup down, grab your keys and dash for the Holiday Festival of Crafts, which ends its three-day run today [Nov. 27]. The classy annual event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Worcester Center for Crafts, 25 Sagamore Road, and is a mecca of creativity and gift possibilities.

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Wherever you might shop the next few days, you’re way ahead of the game — for a short time. It’s still early enough to hold items in your hand and weigh your gift-giving options. As the days tick down, fingers will be clicking on laptops like raindrops (or reindeer) on rooftops. In less than four weeks, if the past is any guide, we’ll gladly be OK’ing the overnight shipping, at any cost.

For recreation ideas, special places around the city and area have us covered, as usual.

The wide selection of holiday events and activities remind us how rich and varied our choices are all year long. Old Sturbridge Village, Tower Hill Botanic Garden and the Worcester Art Museum are among a host of defining local places we really should spend more time exploring. (New Year’s Resolution — check.)

What really makes a celebration sparkle is sharing it with others. So we encourage area residents to get over to the Worcester Common Oval this Friday, Dec. 2, from 5 to 9 p.m. for the Festival of Lights. The city’s annual tree-lighting ceremony has in recent years also served as the start of skating season on the public rink, making the Oval come alive in a downtown already beautifully decked out for the season.

We particularly like the Festival of Lights because it’s the sort of event that proves that people gathering together creates its own magic. No city planner can draw it on a blueprint, but tradition, a sense of safety and fun, and the promised arrival of Santa can easily impart to downtown for a few hours the feeling of a living, busy, shared city Worcester works so hard for.

Mechanics Hall

Photo courtesy

Mechanics Hall

Downtown has changed a lot over the decades, but it’s still at the heart of the city’s holidays. Handel’s “Messiah” will resound inside Mechanics Hall again Dec. 3. The popular stART at the Station, with its numerous and unusual gift-giving booths, pulls in to Union Station Dec. 4.

During a month of standout choices, Preservation Worcester’s “Denholms for the Holidays” from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, will provide a taste of the bustling downtown some recall and many can only imagine. With prices starting at $65 for Preservation Worcester members, this is pricey. Still, it doesn’t cost anything to drive by 484 Main St. to admire, from the outside, the former downtown department store dressed up for Christmas as in decades gone by.

Hanover Theatre’s homegrown, hearty adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” a genuine Worcester treasure, runs from Dec. 16 to Dec. 23, with a second-annual sensory-friendly performance on Dec. 18.

Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts

Wikimedia Commons

Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts

First Night Worcester, the last event on the “Holiday Happenings” calendar, will be here before we know it. December will deposit us into January and deepest winter. But right now we’re at one of the best times of the year: still glowing from Thanksgiving, and gearing up for more.

This is when we should center on each other, and the things that really matter.

As Thanksgiving just taught us again, it’s all in the gathering. Whatever else this season throws at us — the parties, first snows, cheery greetings, familiar songs, packages rustling with secrets, and never-ending to-do lists — what lingers in memory are the people we were with.

Underneath the frenzy, December awakens our sense of wonder and welcomes us into the simplicity of love and peace. So, let’s do this.

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