Make A Little Holiday Magic

Don't miss the chance to create memories as sweet as pumpkin pie with these outings

November 27, 2008|By Jill Rosen and Meredith Cohn | Jill Rosen and Meredith Cohn,jill.rosen@baltsun.com and meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

In the thick of a gray morning just days ago, fat snowflakes began to fall on the city, dusting the bricks like powdered sugar and swirling in the air like confetti.

Office workers ran to their windows.

People hurrying along on the sidewalk stopped in their tracks.

And moments later, as suddenly as it appeared, the life-sized snow globe settled. Workers turned back to their desks and city streets were just streets.

A holiday weekend is just like that. You've got to make sure to look for the magic. If not, while you're scrubbing a roasting pan, pushing in line for half-off toys or cursing the airport, you'll miss it.

The sparkle might be especially hard to notice this year, with money tight for so many.

But if the pilgrims could kick off an American tradition, inspired by a little extra corn and surviving a rough winter, we can surely muster some enthusiasm for a four-day weekend.

The good stuff isn't expensive anyway.

It's the scent of nutmeg and cinnamon curling through your home.

It's cuddling up with the family to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade.

It's digging deep in the basement to excavate the old family photos.

It's bundling up and taking a long walk in the crunchy leaves. This is great with the family, but maybe even greater alone.

It's watching the marshmallow melt in a steaming mug of cocoa.

Some folks in the area take advantage of the holiday time to pay homage to their American roots with a trip to one of the Smithsonian museums in Washington. Because a lot of people don't know the Smithsonian properties are open today, there's a chance at snagging a fabulous parking spot on the Mall - holiday magic in itself.

While some wrestle over deals at the stores this weekend, others will pile into the car in search of a holiday tree. And even if Christmas isn't your holiday, who can't appreciate the delightfully gauche excess that is Hampden's 34th Street?

Another way to get your Pilgrim on before the weekend closes is to do Thanksgiving like they did and actually celebrate the harvest. Browse the bounty at the Sunday morning farmers' market under the JFX. Think ingredients for turkey soup, turkey stew, turkey pasta ...

In the spirit of the season, it could also be a good time to think of others, particularly those in need. After all, if it wasn't for the Indians giving the Pilgrims a hand, we probably wouldn't have a four-day weekend to worry about.

If you'd like to do some of these seasonal things, and a few others, here are the details:

SEE THE LIGHTS: Go to the lighting of 34th Street. The residents of this Hampden block are in their 61st year of lighting up their homes for the holidays, attracting visitors from all over the world. The grand lighting is at 5:45 p.m. Saturday (christmasstreet.com).

WATCH FOR SANTA ON A TRAIN : The B&O Railroad Museum is offering the Festival of Trains, with Santa visiting from 10:30 a.m.-noon and 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m. tomorrow. The trains are on display through Dec. 30 at the museum, 901 W. Pratt St. (410-752-2490, borail.org).

VISIT: THE SMITHSONIAN : See art, learn about space travel, get up close with the monkeys. Or, in the spirit of the holiday, you could check out the National Museum of the American Indian, Fourth Street and Independence Avenue Southwest in Washington (202-633-1000). You can go to any of the 19 museums, nine research centers and the National Zoo because they are open all Thanksgiving weekend (202-633-1000, si.edu).

ESCAPE THE HOLIDAY : Twilight is playing at theaters all over town, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is playing through Nov. 30 at Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St. (410-685-3201, centerstage.org), and there are kung fu matinees at 2 p.m. Saturdays at Rock Candy, 4321 Harford Road (443-919-4527, rockcandybaltimore.com).

SHOP ARTFULLY : The American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway, is presenting Bazaart, its annual holiday marketplace of artful creations by 50 local craftspeople. The shop is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Entry is free, so don't forget to take a turn around the museum, too. And if you want to beat the crowds, there's a preview party with light fare from 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m. tomorrow for $20 (410-244-1900, avam.org). Other museums also have shops with unique gifts, including the Museum of Industry, 1415 Key Highway (410-727-4808, thebmi.org); the National Aquarium, 501 E. Pratt St (410-576-3800, aqua.org); and the Walters Art Museum, 601 N. Charles St. (410-547-9000, thewalters.org).

GET SPORTY : There are plenty of venues to watch the game on big televisions. There's ESPNZone, 601 E. Pratt St. (410-685-3776, espnzone.com/baltimore); Little Havana, 1325 Key Highway (410-837-9903, littlehavanas.com); and Muggsy's Mug House, 1236 Light St. (410-528-9111).

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