How to get your Christmas, holiday fix on South Whidbey | CORRECTED

Plenty of people say the holidays bring with them a busy time of family, friends, gatherings and parties.

Dancers pose during a dress rehearsal for Whidbey Island Dance Theatre’s “The Nutcracker

Plenty of people say the holidays bring with them a busy time of family, friends, gatherings and parties.

The listings on The Record’s calendar page and online are a strong indicator of just that, with weekends packed with events each weekend from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.

Here is but a small collection of things to do, including a public light show, a stroll through a lit-up winter wonderland, concerts, performances and good cheer in the coming weeks to celebrate the holidays.

WALKABOUTS

Clinton light show

In its 20th year, the free light show run by Jerry and Lois Beck in Clinton is a beacon of holiday cheer.

The Becks, a family of five, spend almost a month setting up the lights and staging the decorations before the Thanksgiving launch of the Beck light show. Using 2.45 megawatts of electricity, the energy bill costs up to $600, with up to 60,000 lights illuminating the property.

A bin for food donations is at the end of the path through the light show, that goes to the Good Cheer Food Bank.

Lights are on every night from 6 to 9 p.m. at 6504 Robin Lane, off Deer Lake Road. Tune the radio to holiday tunes and enjoy the show.

Stroll through town

With the town all aglow, an evening walk or waltz through Langley has a strong feel of small-town Christmastime.

Thanks to the Langley Main Street Association and Langley Chamber of Commerce, most of the storefronts are decorated and the trees along First and Second streets downtown are strung with white lights. Plus, a Christmas tree adorned in lights and glass ornaments at Langley Park acts as a centerpiece to the Village by the Sea’s decor.

The chamber of commerce is sponsoring a shopping spree giveaway. For every $20 spent at participating stores, shoppers receive a ticket for a raffle to win $1,000. The winner will be announced at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19.

TREATS

A sweet decoration

Decorate a gingerbread house at Sweet Mona’s Chocolate Boutique on Sunday, Dec. 13.

For $25, owner and confectionista Mona Newbauer will offer tips for skillful decorating during a two-hour session. The gingerbread houses will already be constructed, so the time will be spent making each candy home a treat as sweet to look at as it would be to eat.

“They’ll learn different techniques for glazing; they’ll use royal icing and buttercream icing,” Newbauer said. “Then they’ll be at it on their own with all the baubles I got.”

Everyone who participates gets a gingerbread house and a sugar cookie to decorate and take home.

There were only 24 gingerbread houses, and 14 people had already called to reserve a spot as of Dec. 7. There are two sessions, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Sweet Mona’s, Langley’s premier candy supplier, is at 221 Second St. Suite 16, Langley. Call Sweet Mona’s at 360-221-2728 to register.

PERFORMANCES

Crack into wonderment

Whidbey Island Dance Theatre continues its long-running winter tradition of putting on the classic holiday ballet, “The Nutcracker.”

A girl gets a magical nutcracker that battles an army of mice, defeats the mouse king, becomes a prince, and whisks her away on a trip to the Land of Sweets and other enchanted places filled with dance.

Choreographed by Whidbey’s own Brittany Falso, the new pieces have something to keep the production fresh, while the classics of Tchaikovsky’s score and story remain.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Shows begin Friday, Dec. 11 and wrap up Sunday, Dec. 20. There is also a character brunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.

Other themed nights are planned. Family Night lowers all ticket prices to $17 for the 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11 opening. An Ugly Christmas Sweater Night is set for the 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18 performance. All shows are at South Whidbey High School.

Advance tickets cost $20 for general admission, $17 for seniors, military members, and children 17 and younger. Buying tickets at the door costs $24 for adults and $22 for seniors, military members and children younger than 12.

Tickets for the character brunch cost $15 for adults and $10 for youths 12 and younger.

Purchases may be made online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2304413.

The theater group is also inviting patrons to send a child to “The Nutcracker,” by donating money for families in financial hardship. More information about the offer can be found online at widtonline.org.

WCT holiday play

A free, original holiday-themed play written, designed and produced by children will take over the main stage at Whidbey Children’s Theater on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

Directed and co-created by Martha Murphy, “A Visit to Finlandia” will follow in the footsteps of other classic Christmas tales she is known for producing such as “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It tells of a fair queen, the princess, the magical world of Finlandia, fair kittens, a wizard and a knight. But the ice queens and their pet wolf of Upper Finlandia know that not all is fine, according to a press release.

“It’ll be charming and cute,” said Executive Director Cait Cassee.

Part of a workshop taught by Murphy, the play is being put on by children from four to 12 years old. The young thespians started rehearsing in late October.

While admission is free, donations to the theater will be accepted during a “pass the hat” moment.

A French noel

Island Consort will take concert-goers on a musical journey with “Joyeux Noël,” a French Christmas concert at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20 at Langley United Methodist Church.

In lieu of the church’s longtime Christmas concert, which is being missed this year after the former music director retired, Island Consort will fill the gap with its performance of Lully’s “Chaconne” and the works of Campra, Corrette, and Couperin. The featured piece is “Messe de Minuit pour Noël” by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Donations suggested are $20 for adults and $10 for youths.

CHURCH SERVICES

Longest Night, vigil

The Langley United Methodist Church will hold a series of events leading to Christmas with a children’s play, a winter solstice service and a Christmas Eve candlelight communion.

The kids play is during the regular worship service at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 20 and reprises at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24. There will be carol singing, a telling of the Christmas story and candle light.

Designed to be quiet, reflective and a bit somber, the Longest Night Service on Sunday, Dec. 20, is for those struggling with sorrow and grief. The service, held on the shortest day of the year, begins at 7 p.m. in the church’s Fellowship Hall. Claudia Walker will play the harp as the musical accompaniment to a labyrinth walk and meditation.

A Christmas Eve service for family is at 4:30 p.m. with a candlelight communion at 10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 24.

Children’s program

The youths of Island Church of Whidbey in Langley have a performance prepared for Friday, Dec. 11 and Sunday, Dec. 13.

The musical “Joy to You and Me,” put on by the children from the church, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11 and at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.

Keep the season going

In Clinton, the congregation at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church keeps the Christmas season going with its 12th Night celebration Sunday, Jan. 10.

Without a pageant or lutefisk this year at the church, both longstanding traditions, St. Peter’s is turning its attention to the days after Christmas. Pastor Mikkel Hustad said St. Peter’s celebrates Christmas more closely with the European traditions. One of which is that the tree will not be put up until Christmas, launching the 12 days of Christmas. Hustad joked that, contrary to popular marketing slogans about the 12 days of Christmas preceding Dec. 25, they will last into the new year.

“We want to celebrate Christmas as long as we can,” he said.

This year, as in years past, a ceremonial burning of the Christmas tree will occur. The church has tried burning the tree in the past, said pastor Mikkel Hustad, but that was not a particularly safe activity.

“But we have an 18-foot tree, so we have a ceremonial burning now,” he laughed.

Instead, visitors take a candle home and conduct a blessing over the door.

“It’s a strong custom in many countries to bring a blessing of the Christmas season home,” Hustad said.

The church also participates in a “white elephant” gift exchange with Byzantine regulations.

“The rules around all of that are more stringent than any of the religions,” Hustad laughed.

Correction: An earlier version reported a previously published time and date for the Longest Night service at Langley United Methodist Church, which was changed after The Record went to press. It was changed to reflect the new time and date.

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