I spent my evening last night at a Christmas party with some writer friends. Since we are all people who tell stories, we gathered around and told the stories of our personal Christmas traditions.
My traditions paled in comparison to the stories of shoe-shining in Hungary and pinatas in Mexico and buckets — yes, you read that right — of wine in Romania, so I didn’t regale everyone with the fact that my December 3rd birthday is historically the day we decorate our tree and my mother’s December 24th birthday sees the entire family — believers and non — at church. Christmas day itself is a free-for-all of sanctioned gluttony and gift-giving and playing with new toys / reading new books / watching new videos.
My fondest memories of Christmas, however, happen in the weeks leading up to the main event, when as a child my grandfather taught me to bake. This is a tradition which continues on, as annually I re-create his recipes for the hordes to devour between breakfast and turkey.
Beyond the gatherings of family and friends, the maxing out of plastic at malls, the gorging on feasts, and the celebration of faith traditions, Christmas is a season full of many fun events. Here are some I recommend:
The Kelowna Actor’s Theatre’s production of Elf, the musical, which I was fortunate enough to attend on opening night, tells the story of Buddy the Elf, who climbed into Santa’s sack as an infant and was raised at the North Pole. Eventually, he learns he is actually a human, rather than an elf, and he heads to New York to meet his father. The show is extremely well acted and I laughed all the way through the performance, rooting for Buddy to find a happy ending to the very end. Elf runs from December 5 thru December 23. Tickets may be purchased online at Kelowna Tickets Box Office.
Hear the Music Night Christmas is an evening of music with Jon Buller and Band. Jon is a Juno award nominated Christian recording artist and has twice won Covenant Music Awards for his worship albums. Jon is also a former worship pastor at Vernon Alliance Church, and just fyi happened to play bass on one an album by yours truly (Thanks again Jon!). Hear the Music Christmas Night will also feature harpist Aaron Ord. The event takes place Friday December 14 at the Kelowna Community Theatre at 7 pm and Sunday December 16 at 7 pm at Vernon Performing Arts Centre. Admission is by donation. Word to the wise — arrive early, as I have previously experienced being turned away at the door as Jon tends to sell out his events.
Smith, Funk and Strauss and Friends Okanagan Christmas is a musical event featuring touring artists Smith, Funk and Strauss playing folk and jazz inspired favourites. This concert is held at Lake Country’s Creekside Theatre Friday December 15 at 7:30 pm Tickets are $29 and may be reserved at 250-733-9309. Of these three musicians, I have personally heard Norm Strauss play way back in the 90’s, when he was a member of the Robbins and Strauss band. More recently, Strauss has been in Germany, a contestant on the Voice.
Yuletide Tales features the Okanagan Symphony Youth Chorus with Rosemary Thomson as Director and Garry Gable as narrator and bass-baritone. This heartwarming show brings classic holiday stories to life. I was fortunate to hear this chorus perform recently, and highly recommend this family friendly event. The concerts take place Thursday, December 20 at 7:30 pm at Vernon Performing Arts Centre, Friday December 21 at 7:30 at the Kelowna Community Theatre and Saturday December 22 at Penticton’s Cleland Community Theatre.
As well, check out local ski hills, which are now open, or the Stuart Park outdoor skating arena in Kelowna.
If you are interested in giving back this Christmas season, consider donating to the local area food banks or to area toy banks, or consider volunteering for a shirt ringing the Salvation Army Kettle Drum bells. If you are musically inclined, bring along your guitar or your voice, or get a group together and sing carols while ringing the bells. I can give you first hand feedback to say this is a fun time, and people seem to appreciate the Christmas spirit as they donate.
If you want to come see myself and friends, meet me at the sails, downtown Kelowna, on Tuesday, December 18 at 6 pm where an informal choir will gather to sing Christmas carols. Bring a donation for the food bank and your voices! Hope to see you all there!
However you celebrate, enjoy, stay warm, stay safe, and may you love and be loved this Holiday season!
Merry Christmas, 2018!