By Minta Pavliscsak
I took to some of the known local hangouts around Charleston to mix and mingle with the people who make up the core of our fair city in hopes find out what they love about the holidays here in the Lowcountry. At any given time of the year, there is no shortage of activity in and around the Holy City. Somehow we pack in additional events, concerts, plays, specialty markets, home tours, and more on top of the traditional parades, last minute shopping, visits with Santa, decking the halls, card writing, baking cookies, and wrapping presents into the wee hours of the morning.
Having grown up in a small town in Georgia where we did not have all of these awesome extra things to do, you can imagine that I was, well like a kid at Christmastime when I spent my first holiday season here in Charleston! This year makes my thirteenth Christmas in Charleston, and each is just a little bit more magical than the last. A couple of weeks ago, as I listened to two wide-eyed children excitedly recount the details of the previous night’s Holiday Festival of Lights Run, I tried to imagine what it might be like had every Christmas been a Charleston Christmas. These boys are 5 and 7 years old and have been attending this special preview of the light display at James Island County Park with their mom and dad for the past few years, and each year on the following morning I get that same wide-eye, enthusiastic view through their eyes.
This led me to wanting to get to know our wonderful Charlestonians a little better. I wanted to see Christmas through the eyes of those who got to experience it here from childhood. So off I went with pen and paper in hand, and to no surprise, met some really nice folks! (Bear in mind that while each response had a unique story with it, a few of them were repeated, thus making the list on the shorter side.)
The question I asked went as follows:
What is your favorite thing to do during your Charleston Christmas that never loses its magic?
-“The downtown Christmas parade.”
-“The Sound of Charleston Holiday Concert at the Circular Church.”
-“Taking the whole family to Boone Hall Farms to pick out the perfect Christmas tree.”
-“Waiting for the coldest night to go see the Holiday Festival of Lights.”
-“Baking lots of cookies, and trying a new recipe every year.”
-“Every year growing up in Mt. Pleasant, my brother and I would get together with all of the other neighbor kids and go house to house singing carols.”
-“My family would take this time of year to finally get around to visiting a historical church downtown.”
-“The Parade of Boats.”
-“Go and see The Nutcracker. We particularly enjoy the Russian ballet.”
-“It was always important to my parents that we bought extra toys for the Toys for Tots drive. Now my kids pick out the extra toys.”
-“Hot chocolate and attend the tree lighting in Marion Square.”
-“My dad and I still go check out the trainset in Charleston Place.”
-“Finding an Angel Tree and playing Santa for someone else.”
-“Starting the season off by visiting the house at Boone Hall Plantation and arguing with my sister about whose house would look more like it when we got older.”
My conclusion is that if there is such thing as “Christmas Magic” we definitely have lots of it right here in Charleston, South Carolina. Your traditions may be exactly the same from year to year, or perhaps it is your tradition to do something different every year. Regardless of what you do there is no doubt that you will always have plenty to choose from right here where we call home, and the following day you will meet your friends with wide eyes and excitedly tell them all about it.
Happy Christmas Charleston!