I am such a Christmas fanatic. I watch every single, sappy Hallmark Christmas movie, even though I either know the outcome because I’ve watched it for years or because a 5-year-old could figure out the plot: Girl gets guy or guy gets girl and the mean old man (or woman) is filled with the spirit of Christmas and stops being mean. I put up my tree the day after Thanksgiving. Wrapping presents is not a chore for me. And, yes, I’d really, really like it to snow for Christmas.
So it’s no surprise that I fit in so well here at the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC), where we are geared up and ready for Christmas the week before Thanksgiving. Actually, it all begins two weeks before that, at the very beginning of November, when we began putting together our “Old-fashioned Christmas” exhibit. This is our eighth year for decking the Carriage House Gallery here at the Physick Estate with boughs and more boughs to form the underside of a giant Christmas tree. This was also the eighth year that we had to arrange the hundreds of pieces of the Dickens Village collection beneath the tree and, as in years past, it’s not so much that I dread the end of the holiday season than that I dread the thought of getting all the Dickens Village pieces back in the right boxes!
Even though Christmas is still a month away, there’s still plenty to see and enjoy in Cape May to lift your holiday spirit. One of the things I most enjoy is volunteering in the Gallery on the nights when we have our busier tours, and seeing and hearing the wonder people feel when they see this exhibit. Last Saturday, several people even told us that the exhibit was the best part of the whole visit, some even telling us they come every year to see it. I whispered “Hear that?” to various body parts like my knees and back that have just about recovered from the two weeks of building it.
And everyone is in such a good, Christmasy mood. Oh sure, there’s always one or two (“the little lights aren’t twinkling, Clark”), but those are few and far between and pale in comparison to the many visitors for whom a tour of Cape May at Christmas is a gift in itself. The town’s Victorian atmosphere is a trip back in time to our younger days at Christmastime, when it wasn’t just about shopping malls and the latest in electronics. It’s an Old World feeling you just can’t seem to find anywhere else and it’s a sure cure if your Christmas spirit is suffering from an overdose of 21st century holiday electronics frenzy.
There’s plenty of time to plan your holiday visit to Cape May. Not a single bulb has blown on the exhibit’s giant tree, and the train is still chugging merrily along. There are plenty of day and evening house and trolley tours, and the magnificent Physick Estate with its traditional Victorian Christmas decorations is not to be missed. There’s the three weekends of Candlelight House Tours, Dec. 1, 8 and 15, the real jewel in our Christmas crown So, if you’re a little sad at how much Christmas changed since you were younger (weren’t we all?), come to Cape May and we’ll help you revitalize that Christmas spirit. Come to Cape May and make it a real Christmas again.
-- Jean Barraclough is manager of publications and website at MAC