Hosts of Christmases Past

By Michael Lay | Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Happy Holidays!

The Christmas season positively vibrates with reverence for the past. Who among us has not waxed nostalgic over a favorite old Christmas song or an iconic holiday movie or drifted off into soft-focused golden-hued remembrances of the Christmases of our youth?

Of course, for many of us these memories may have sweetened with the passage of time. For instance, I'm told that as a small child I nearly drove everyone mad during the countdown to Christmas with my incessant playing of Gene Autrey's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" on my little portable record player. Personally, I recall my Rudolph Period in a more positive light. Mom? Not so much.

And then there was the year Santa placed the Lone Ranger collection under the tree. Complete with hat, mask, holster, shiny six-shooters and silver bullets, boy howdy, I was the coolest, most mysterious Wild West lawman the good people of Hopewell, VA, had ever seen! Who WAS that masked man? For weeks the Lone Ranger dashed heroically out the back door to bring truth and justice to the mean streets of my factory town neighborhood.

Dad, I think, was secretly envious. If he could've figured out how to get away with wearing the hat and mask on his UPS truck, I'm pretty sure he would have done it. Mom...well...Mom just sighed a lot. Stashed safely away in a dusty old box at the back of a closet lies a faded, discolored Polaroid from the mid-1960s showing me in all my Lone Ranger glory. Still kinda miss that mask...

A few years later came the Christmas of the Tyco train set (which I proudly still possess), followed by the Hot Wheels Christmas featuring the battery-driven "Super-Charger" inside which were two furiously spinning foam rubber disks that accelerated the cars around the orange plastic track all the while emitting the most glorious roaring racket! Curiously, my folks seemed unprepared for this aural celebration of speed and power. It was almost as if they'd paid absolutely no attention to the commercials at all! With fresh batteries the Hot Wheels cars would sometimes actually achieve escape velocity, flying off the track and careening about the room. Oh, those heady days of Christmases past.

Some folks, however, take the concept of "past" to an entirely different level. In that spirit, bring the whole family to Christmas Past at Island Farm on Roanoke Island, Saturday, Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is a wonderful opportunity to gain insight into the holiday experience of Roanoke Islanders during the 19th century. Among the day's highlights, Santa arrives by ox-drawn wagon at 10 a.m., delivering the Christmas tree and Christmas goose. From 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. children can take wagon rides with Santa, and beginning at 2 p.m. they can visit with Santa by a warm fire in the farmhouse. Beginning at 11:30 a.m., and every half hour thereafter, enjoy vignette performances of "A Christmas Gift" by Elizabeth City State University theater program director and associate professor of theater, Ms. Billica Hines, and drama student Shalisa Spence.

Visitors can participate in the day's events by helping to decorate the family Christmas tree or by making corn husk doll ornaments or a candle to take home. Step into the cookhouse to sample foods from an 1850s Christmas feast, enjoy cookies and warm cider and watch as the Christmas goose is prepared for dinner. Also on hand will be local blacksmith and artisan Randy Hodges, who will stoke the forge's coal fire and hammer out decorative and utilitarian objects from red hot pieces of iron. Admission is $8/person with children aged 5 and younger admitted free.

Unfortunately, one Saturday event reflecting on Outer Banks Christmases past, Rodanthe's Olde Christmas at Chicamacomico: A Living History Remembrance, has been cancelled due to the lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy and subsequent storms. But keep this event in mind for next year. I'm confident these Hatteras Islanders will bounce back and be ready to go by next Christmas.

Those in the mood for a stirring evening of holiday music should make plans to attend the Christmas Concert performance of the North Carolina A&T State University Choir on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Indoor Theatre at Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo. The choir, under the direction of maestro Travis W. Alexander, performed at the White House on February 17, 2012. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children aged 6-12. Children 5 and younger will be admitted free.

Also on Saturday, the Hatteras Village Civic Association sponsors the annual Hatteras Village Christmas Parade. The parade begins at Teach's Lair Marina at 2 p.m., and the parade route weaves through the village before ending at the Hatterasman Drive-In. Everyone is invited to the Community Building after the parade for home-baked cookies and hot chocolate and for the announcement of the parade winners. There will be three $250 prizes for adult parade entries and three $50 prizes for children's entries. To enter the parade, please call Dennis Robinson at 475-4388 or e-mail {encode="" title=""}.

For those of us who can't get enough of holiday light shows, here are a couple of extra opportunities to get that fix. On Friday, Dec. 7 head up to Corolla for the 6th Annual Holiday Illumination at 5 p.m. at The Whalehead Club. Gather on the north lawn to enjoy free hot chocolate and sing carols while the giant cedar tree in Currituck Heritage Park and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse are simultaneously illuminated. The historic Whalehead Club will open for special holiday tours to show the house decorated as it would have been in its 1920s heyday. Check out the gift shop for unique gifts with an emphasis on preserving the heritage of the Outer Banks and Corolla. The Whalehead Club's copper collection is discounted only once a year, and now is that time! Admission and parking are free.

Back south in the town of Kill Devil Hills the First in Flight Holiday Lights display at Frog Pond in Aviation Park presents visitors and residents with a classic Christmas tree design more than 20 feet tall that contrasts with a backdrop of dark trees and watery reflections to create a beautiful and calming respite from the hectic holiday season.

The final First Friday of 2012 takes place Friday, Dec. 7 in Downtown Manteo on Roanoke Island from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. This fun and family-friendly celebration always includes live music, plus the shops and galleries are open late for your Christmas shopping convenience. The Dare County Arts Council will host the annual Holiday Small Works Show, a timely opportunity to give someone the thoughtful gift of art this Christmas while supporting an active local arts organization and contributing to the livelihood of our local artists.

And let's not forget our furry friends this holiday season! From now through Dec. 21 the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is helping to spread the holiday cheer by collecting gifts for our four-legged friends at the Outer Banks SPCA for their Santa Paws Tree. For each donation of 7 lbs. or more of dry food, puppy or kitten chow or canned dog or cat food you will receive one free admission to the Aquarium.

Other much-needed items include donations of dog, cat, puppy or kitten food (of any amount), blankets, dog shampoo, kitty litter, pillowcases, dog or cat toys and rawhides. Bring your contributions to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, located at 374 Airport Road, just north of Manteo.

Check back next week for gift-giving ideas featuring the products and creative offerings of some of the Outer Banks own entrepreneurs, artists, musicians and others.

Hi-yo, Silver! Away!

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway

This week you have a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to ARTspace Gallery and a $25 gift certificate to Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe!

For more information about ARTspace OBX, check out their website.

For more information about Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe, check out their website.

Last Week's Winner

Congratulations to Doug Detrick‎!!!

You won a $50 gift certificate to Ocean Annies's and a $25 gift certificate to The Blue Point Restaurant!

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway Winner

For more information about Ocean Annie's, check out their website.

For more information about The Blue Point Restaurant, check out their website.

About the Author Michael Lay
Michael Lay is a local graphic designer, artist, photographer and writer. He lives in picturesque downtown Manteo, NC, and is the manservant of two beautiful and willful feline princesses, Sophie and Sassy. You can contact Michael at