Happy Thanksgiving all! Once we’ve eaten our turkey, expressed our gratitude, and watched football or played board games, it will be time to think about the final round of 2022 celebrations. Honestly? I have no idea what the December holidays will be like this year. Here’s what they looked the first year of the pandemic.
Why are we wearing turkey masks at Christmas you might be asking? Because, even though they were ordered in early September for Thanksgiving they didn’t show up until December 20. And that’s pretty much how 2020 went! Christmas Eve in a Utah church parking lot, only four of us at dinner, many of our longstanding traditions discontinued or cancelled.
Things have changed since then. But Covid is still around, along with a wicked flu and RSV. Nevertheless, many of our pre-pandemic activities and traditions are back this year. This means that, yet again, we have to weigh out the cost/benefits of joy and fun versus possible exposure and illness. Given this, whenever possible, I opt for staying local and outdoors. Luckily, there are plenty of seasonal, fresh-air festivities to choose from in our area!
If you live here, or are planning to spend the holidays in the Finger Lakes region, here’s a few happenings I’m partial to:
The Rutabaga Curl returns to the Ithaca Farmers Market in 2022! Dress warmly and enter into the spirit of this zany, vegetable-centric sporting event. Trust me-you won’t find another high-spirited gathering quite like it!
It’s a Wonderful Life Festival in Seneca Falls. If you’re a fan of the holiday movie classic, this is a party you won’t want to miss. Karolyn Grimes (George Bailey’s daughter Zuzu) has made it her holiday staple and she’ll be there once again this year. There’s an annual parade, plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping and collecting Wonderful Life souvenirs, and a plethora of photo opportunities. Just be sure to watch out for Mr. Potter-he’s always on the lookout for pedistrians to heckle and harass!
The Dickens Festival in Skaneateles. With a raucous holiday sing-along at the gazebo, the smell of roasting chestnuts, daily street performances of A Christmas Carol and costumed characters from the play wandering the streets, what could go wrong?
With all the delicious holiday food and drink, it’s easy to pack on a few pounds before New Year’s. Be proactive this year by fitting a few fun, physical activities into your busy holiday schedule.
Find a Christmas tree farm and cut down a live tree or two (birds and squirrels love having their own!). Then enjoy some cookies while decorating it together.
Hit the slopes! Skiing In upstate New York with family or friends is always a blast. Many have been making snow and will have trails open by December. We love Greek Peak (which has recently invested in new equipment and trails) but I’m eager to try Holiday Valley and Bristol Mountain this year too.
Sledding at local parks. Some of my favorites natural hills include Rice Hill in Trumansburg, Cornell’s Botanic Gardens in Ithaca, or Rochester’s Ellison Park and Durand Eastman Park.
Take a winter walk with your furry friend(s). Pets get stressed during the holidays too. Why not set aside an afternoon to treat your four-legged pal to a scenic stroll where you can both quietly commune with nature? Murphy and I enjoy the ice and snow on the Black Diamond or Taughannock Falls trails (Trumansburg), at Sampson State Park (Romulus), or at Seneca Lake State Park (Geneve/Waterloo).
Some days are too cold to be outside, even for us hardy upstaters! It wouldn’t be Christmas without my annual visit to the well-ventilated Lamberton Conservatory in Rochester to enjoy the colorful plant displays and penny quail.