It’s that time of year again. Christmas, yes, but more specifically, time for a seasonal drama at the Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre in Wytheville, Virginia. This year’s production, A Wohlfahrt Christmas Carol, runs through next Saturday. My buddy Kandy and I caught the matinee performance this afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The dinner portion is always exciting, starting off with a salad, cranberry sauce, and their signature pita chips and cheese dip. Next came the entrée, Thanksgiving leftovers, but tasty ones – turkey with gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes, and Italian-style green beans. The rolls smelled phenomenal! (I ate very little of the main course, mostly because it was drenched in gravy, which I’m really not supposed to eat. But the pita chips, cheese dip, cranberry sauce, and green beans were delicious!) Dessert, strawberry cheesecake, came out during intermission, and I did indulge – I haven’t eaten that sort of dessert since my surgery six months ago and it was like eating it for the first time. So decadent and rich. Thankfully it was a very small piece and there were no issues afterwards. So, dinner itself was a smash and I strongly recommend the holiday menu there to anyone, anytime.

The production itself was equally enjoyable. It was the classic tale of Scrooge, mashed up with the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth, which put a whole different spin on it. Each part was as you would expect it to be, mostly, just married together, which audiences seem to enjoy. Three characters stood out in my opinion, each raising the bar in community theater for A Christmas Carol: Scrooge, played by Nicholas Landmesser; Jacob Marley, played by Rocky Cooper; and The Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Dillon Giles. My favorite scenes were probably Marley ascending onto the stage through the trap door wearing his chains, and the zombie’esque dancers during the Ghost of Christmas Past scene (it was like Tim-Burton-meets-Charles-Dickens there for a few moments and I really loved the effects). I was admittedly a little surprised when the Angel of the Lord appeared to Scrooge, but it’s Christmas and it’s Southwest Virginia – it worked. I particularly enjoyed the traditional Christmas carols, as those always remind me of the Christmas plays from church and school choirs when I was growing up. A few of the songs from the traditional part of Dickens’ tale were songs we sang in school choirs, too; nostalgia ran rampant for me today, in only positive ways. (I even sang “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” in French in my head, for some odd reason, as I learned to do my first year in French class in high school, and have never forgotten it for reasons I won’t pretend to understand.)

Shortly after dropping Kandy off at home after the dinner theater production, I was on the road back towards Bristol, for a prearranged date in Abingdon with Russ to see Elf at the Abingdon Cinemall’s second weekend of free holiday movies. I love Elf. It’s one of my all-time favorite movies and I’ll watch it any time of year, not just the holidays. But I’ve never seen it on the big screen. Doing so was glorious! Will Ferrell bigger than life is somehow even funnier than on my TV screen at home. But the best part was watching it with all the kids. Hearing their commentary. Listening to them sing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” Their gasps of awe when Santa’s sleigh drops out of the sky into Central Park, “Santa!” Admittedly, it all made me cry. We’ve established long before now that I’m a Christmas sap, but tonight confirmed it. Many thanks to my amazing husband – for meeting me for yet another holiday date night, but also for appreciating and loving me despite my many “Buddy” tendencies in everyday life; I may not put syrup on spaghetti but put me in a revolving door and watch me go to town!

With that image to stick in your brain this holiday season, I’m going to wish everyone a Merry Merry and a Happy Happy. Whatever it is you celebrate where you are and how you believe. May 2024 be a warmer, kinder year for us all, full of happiness, health, and gratitude, and grace. Amen.