Have a Holly, Jolly and Local Holiday
By Judith Bratten
Merry Christmas? Happy Holidays? As one of the most unsettling and tragic years on record is drawing to a close, many people, organizations, businesses, and communities are trying to navigate a new normal especially as they face the annual season of “peace and good will.”
Those of us who have studied history or worked at museums and historic sites have learned that no matter the crisis, people can be resilient and resourceful. True, many museums had to close their doors to visitors – but then they developed clever videos and internet programs to educate and encourage.
True, many small shops saw their in-person sales disappear – but they jumped into the 21st century and developed online retail opportunities. True, many restaurants couldn’t welcome diners to their tables – but then they added take-out and drive-thru menus.
The stay-at-home orders encouraged many people to stay closer to home and patronize their local businesses. That should certainly carry over as the holidays approach, ensuring both economic health for businesses and emotional/psychological well-being for individuals and families. From my perspective in east central Ohio, here are a few suggestions to make your holiday a holly, jolly and local one!
Food: For many people, the best part of the season is preparing traditional holiday meals and foods for gifts. Were you among those who cleared all the yeast from the store shelves and took up baking back in the spring?
Now is the perfect time to put those skills to work by baking holiday breads, cookies and snacks to give as presents. If you don’t have a floury thumb, check out the local bakery in your area for their specialties. The wonderful Downtown Bakery in Steubenville, Ohio has operated for over 60 years and offers Mini Creme Horns and Hungarian nut rolls among other temptations.
Theo’s Restaurant in Cambridge, Ohio has provided incredible desserts for over 75 years including their famous homemade pies that would add a special touch to your family feast. Another popular shop in Cambridge is Kennedy’s Bakery.
Shopping: The budget may not allow for an extravaganza of gift-giving this year, but as the old saying goes, “It’s the thought that counts.” Handmade gifts can often be found at local fall festivals and organizations’ bazaars and fundraisers. Wreathes, candles, scented soaps and hand-crafted jewelry may be for sale in one of those little downtown shops you may have driven past; now is the time to patronize it. If you enjoy online shopping, try to find local retailers.
Our local used bookstore in Steubenville, BookMarx Books, is more reliable and customer friendly than Amazon and keeps our money in the county. Several cute new shops selling popcorn, vintage clothes, and holiday décor have also popped up. Encourage the kids to make cards, decorations, and useful trinkets with craft supplies from your local stores.
Events: With the threat of flu and coronavirus, many folks will forgo travel to distant holiday events and attractions. But that only means that you’ll find “there’s no place like home” and take advantage of the special programs being offered by churches, institutions and schools in your own community. Or you can take a drive to one of the nearby holiday lightshows that can be viewed from your car such as at Oglebay Park in Wheeling, WV and the Courthouse Light Show in Cambridge.
The Nutcracker Village in Steubenville and Dicken’s Victorian Village in Cambridge will be laid out for easier viewing from your vehicle. You can also take the kids to one of the Polar Express train rides around the state, such as at Dennison Depot in Dennison, Ohio where special safety protocols are in effect.
Finally, be sure to take photos and keep a journal of your activities for this most unusual holly, jolly holiday season in this most memorable year.
Holiday’s in Historic Fort Steubenville