I'm dreaming of a warm Christmas

By Molly Harrison | Monday, December 20, 2010
Be sure to see Winter Lights at Elizabethan Gardens on Thurs

You may be dreaming of a white Christmas, but not me. I'm still hoping for one of those upper 60-degree Christmases that we've had on the Outer Banks in the past. * I remember one Christmas Eve, probably nine or 10 years ago, when we were on the beach because the bluefish were blitzing - people were wading in the surf without waders to get to the fish and my 2-year-old niece was playing on the beach in a short-sleeved dress and no shoes. * That's my ideal Christmas, but it doesn't look like it will happen this year - the bluefish or the weather. After another nasty northwest blow early in the week, we're looking at the 40s for Christmas weekend...

It being Christmas week, there are not a lot of special events going on. But that doesn't mean there is not plenty to do. * Local attractions are open early in the week (most through Thursday), so head to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, Roanoke Island Festival Park, The Elizabethan Gardens, Jockey's Ridge State Park, Wright Brothers National Memorial, Whalehead Club or Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education. I bet you'll practically have the places to yourselves. * On any day you can explore nature in the wind-protected areas of Nags Head Woods, Kitty Hawk Woods, Buxton Woods and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Plus there are lots of ducks and swans to see at Pea Island, Bodie Island (near the lighthouse trail) and, if you're feeling extra-adventurous, Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde County. Bundle up and walk briskly and you'll forget about the cold...

For a light show, head to Grandy for Hear the Lights. This one features 50,000 lights synchronized to music. Turn your radio to 107.5 FM, sit in your car and enjoy the show. Here's how to get there: In Grandy, turn off U.S. 158 onto Poplar Branch Road by McDonald's. Take the third right (Woodhouse Drive). Show hours are Sunday through Thursday 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. (I kind of doubt they'll have it Friday and Saturday this week, but I'm not sure.) It runs through January 2...

The Elizabethan Gardens' popular Winter Lights show only runs on Thursday of this week. The Gardens are illuminated into a winter wonderland of lighted features and holiday decorations. You can tour Winter Lights from 6 to 9 p.m. Cost is $9 for adults, $7 for youth (ages 6-17) and $4 for children 5 and younger. If you can't make it this week, don't worry - there are still a few more days next week...

Elizabethan Gardens is having a Kids Craft Day on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children ages 5 and older can do arts and crafts, have lunch and story time and take a special stroll through the gardens. Cost is $20 for nonmembers. Call (252) 473-3234 to register...

If you're reading this and you still have shopping to do, don't feel bad. Last-minute shoppers buy locally and that's a good thing. * Our Shopping section has a large list of deals so check there first. * Need some ideas?

Art. Everyone appreciates something original made by hand. Head to Manteo, where art galleries are around every corner (don't overlook the main highway), and make sure to go by the Dare County Arts Council, which is having its Annual Holiday Small Works Show. * Or go to KDH Cooperative Gallery, where dozens of local artists show their work and the prices are reasonable. * Hatteras Island, Nags Head, Duck and Corolla all have local galleries full of jewelry, paintings, pottery, fiber art and so much more...

Books. Local bookstore proprietors will help you find just the right selections for your friends and family. So what if your pals are hooked to the iPads and Kindles? They would still appreciate a good cookbook, a book of photography or a beautiful coffee table book. And every kid needs more books and less plastic!...

Summer Gear. Winter is the best time to find deals on gear for summer - think kayaks, surfboards, bathing suits, rash guards, sunglasses, flipf-lops, boogie boards. It's all on sale now...

Memberships. A membership to a gym or fitness center is a great idea for anyone. So is a yearly membership to a beloved attraction like the North Carolina Aquarium, Roanoke Island Festival Park or The Elizabethan Gardens...

Donation. Making a donation in someone's name to that person's favorite charity is a gift that benefits far more people than the giver and receiver...

Gift certificates. If you just can't decide, get a gift certificate to a local gallery, bookstore, boutique, B&B or restaurant. How about gift certificates for fishing trips, surfing and kite-boarding lessons, golfing?...

Here's another shop-op: a Christmas Sale to benefit a group called Alley Cat Rescue. They're setting up at the Ramada Inn in KDH on Wednesday and selling jewelry, gifts and lingerie - with gift wrapping. The sale starts at 10 a.m. and lasts until 9 p.m. Kim Kalman will perform from 5 to 9 p.m. * If you can't shop, but want to support Alley Cat Rescue, send checks to Alley Cat Rescue: P.O. Box 435, Kitty Hawk, NC, 27949...

Hopefully you'll get your shopping done early in the week so you can relax and enjoy your holiday.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

About the Author Molly Harrison
Molly Harrison is managing editor at OneBoat, publisher of OuterBanksThisWeek.com. She moved to Nags Head in 1994 and since then has made her living writing articles and creating publications about the people, places and culture of the Outer Banks. When not working she practices and teaches yoga and spends as much time as possible outside and in or on the water with her husband and two children.