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Still a sucker for holiday traditions

The holiday season is in full swing, and I am for it.

I don’t mean to say I believe everything is swell with the world or even our quadrant, but before the leftover Halloween candy was snarfed, the sometimes drowsy spirit sprang upright. Glee happens.

I’m a sucker for most things old-fashioned, though not really a fan of gelatin molds. Last Saturday we caroled among like-minded folk with a visit to the Jacksonville tree-lighting ceremony. Lane and I wondered if we were being filmed for a Hallmark movie when we saw the drone overhead. I dismissed this possibility, because our neighboring celebrants were not airbrushed glamor queens and kings, but real-looking humans. We stood jacket to jacket with other Whos and their progeny belting out carols and jingling car keys for Jingle Bells with little self-awareness. I wore my Santa hat.

Everyone looked happy to be there, and I startled myself with a measure of delight when they announced Santa wending his way to the podium — the child still lives, and she’d forgotten her list.

Once the tree stood properly adorned, the crowd dispersed and we wandered through shops, which remained open until 8 p.m. instead of the usual 5 or 6. One favorite store, especially this time of year, is Quintessence Decor, which showcases two stories of fairyland-worthy trimmings and magic. It seems of no consequence that my garage is stuffed to the rafters with enough Christmas decorations for all of White City. I can’t seem to resist buying at least one new tree ornament each year. I found a grand-sized glass acorn, frosty pinecone, a cardboard house, and a glittery one-word reminder that says, “Dream.” They’re not all for me.

In another regular stop, Willow Creek Gifts, I found a necklace that fit my budget and a friend’s appreciation for bling. For our final stop, we turned to the Jacksonville Inn for a light supper in their snug bistro below. When this fire-lit room fills with patrons, it doesn’t feel crowded, but complete.

During the first four weekends in December, our historic nugget of Jacksonville will transform into a glittering Victorian Christmas village complete with carolers of the era and tours of the 1863 Beekman Bank and 1873 Beekman House, 470 E. California St. There you’ll have the opportunity to seek the lucky German pickle on the Christmas tree. Maybe the helpful docent can explain that one, as there are some far-fetched tales and questionable origins connected with the blown-glass vegetable.

I may avail myself of their advertised offer to “steal a kiss under the mistletoe” should the timing prove ripe. I will sample Mrs. B’s sugar cookies. The Beekmans of old will reappear and open their home for hour-long tours beginning every 15 minutes between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Admission is $5. A special Boxing Day tour will be offered Wednesday, Dec. 26, for $2 with a canned food item for ACCESS.

The era of elegance (for those of means, anyway) referred to as Victorian is, of course, British and refers to Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 until her death in 1901. Our upstart nation adopted many of the same customs from Victoria and Albert, including the Christmas tree, or Tannenbaum, which Albert introduced from Germany.

It’s interesting to reflect on historic bonds we share with countries that were formerly enemies and with whom we would soon be at war again. “... And wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on Earth, good will to men.”

Find freelance writer Peggy Dover at her book-signing at the Prospect Historic Hotel from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9.