We need a little Christmas

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Feature

Thanksgiving is “early” this year, and I’ve been moaning about that all month. Not sure why, except that I somehow think a few extra days will help me be more “ready” for the holiday season to begin.

They wouldn’t, of course. I am queen of the procrastinators. Give me an hour to get ready, and it takes me 59 (sometimes 59-plus) minutes to get ready. Give me five minutes to do the exact same tasks, and it takes me five minutes. An early Thanksgiving shouldn’t make any difference.

In fact, as I review my options, plans and duties for the upcoming holiday seasons, an early Thanksgiving seems something of a blessing. There’s an extra week tucked-in before December slaps us with the reality of Christmas craziness.

My spirit always wanes as fall begins, just when it should be waxing. I love Halloween, but getting ready for the two holidays that follow just seems to wear me out – at least in the beginning. I moan, drag my feet with plans, complain about the weather and threaten to move to Florida for the winter.

What pushes me out of a holiday doldrums every single year is Fantasy of Trees, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital’s annual fundraiser. It kicks off at the Knoxville Convention Center on Wednesday before Thanksgiving and continues through Sunday. I have been going for most of the 33 years it has been held, watching it grow and flourish and fill great needs at the hospital while shaking away my doldrums.

I don’t think it is possible to attend Fantasy of Trees and not exit full of the Christmas spirit. It is an extravaganza of twinkling lights, laughing children, ho-ho-ho-ing Santa and sweet entertainment by local choral and dance groups. This year’s theme is Walking in a Winter Wonderland, and I am sure the convention center will be transformed.

I love the designer trees and upscale decorations that I never buy. They are nestled comfortably with the Adopt-a-Trees, more than 85 seven-, four- or three-foot trees decorated by children in area schools, Scout Troops, clubs and churches. They range from sweet to silly, and I love them all.

More than 85 decorated trees form the Adopt-a-Tree forest at Fantasy of Trees.

The Gingerbread Village also both amazes and entertains. There are creations worthy of Grove Park Inn’s annual contest standing proudly next to creations with more of a kitchen table feel.

The carousel still takes center stage for most of the children. I am grateful every year that no matter how high you can fly in virtual reality, children still line-up to ride around in a circle on a fiberglass horse.

Here are the need-to-know facts to get your holidays started:

  • Fantasy of Trees begins on Wednesday, Nov. 21, and ends on Sunday, Nov. 25.
  • Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. except Thanksgiving Day (3 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 6 p.m.).
  • Cost without discounts (look for them, including in your School Coupon book): $8 for adults, $4 for children ages 4 to 12; under 4, free. Online: $20 for a four-pack of tickets
  • Attendance last year: 60,000-plus
  • Net proceeds in 33 years: $8 million-plus

Don’t miss Fantasy of Trees this year. I promise you a healthy dose of Christmas is available for the taking. As Angela Lansbury sang so wonderfully in the musical “Mame:”

“We need a little Christmas, right this very minute … For I’ve grown a little colder, grown a little sadder … We need a little Christmas now.”

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