Middle Tennessee is a great place to celebrate the holidays. As we at NowPlayingNashville.com know well, it’s filled with plenty of events to satisfy your yuletide yearnings. There is so much to do, we could easily all have different traditions when it comes to getting out and about with our family and friends. And so it’s in this spirit that we polled our fellow staffers at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to see what they’re up to this December, and how they best like to celebrate the season in Nashville. We hope it offers some ideas for your family, or inspires you to share your own traditions. Join the conversation down in the comments section.
“The trees, lights and Santa at Cheekwood! We love walking through the beautiful trees at the Cheekwood mansion. This year, Cheekwood has Holiday Lights, a tremendous light display complete with s’ mores and hot chocolate. My kids love the live reindeer (ed. note: their names are Holly and Jolly) and then we have a quick visit with Santa in his workshop. Lots of fun for the entire family. — Rebecca Finley, director of communications and marketing
“Our family Christmas Eve tradition is to enjoy a holiday meal at one of Nashville’s many ethnic restaurants. Our extended family of 18 meet in a parking lot, follow the leader on a guessing game around town, and end up for a surprise family feast. So far we have experienced Italian, Japanese, Ethiopian, Indian, Kurdish, Turkish, Thai, Asian, and All-American at Backyard Burger! We love introducing our family to new foods and new friends while making new memories. Just call ahead . . . many restaurants have learned our American tradition of closing early on Christmas Eve. — Gina Tek, services coordinator, Childcare Tennessee and ChildcareNashville.com
“I love to stroll through Downtown Franklin and catch a Holiday movie at The Franklin Theatre. They have a great variety of movies playing in December including Scrooged, Christmas Vacation, Elf, Home Alone, White Christmas, etc. Many of the shops on Main Street have elaborate Christmas displays. There’s something about the small town charm that really gets me in the spirit. — Jessica Musman, online content and marketing associate, NowPlayingNashville.com and GivingMatters.com
“I try and take my granddaughters to see the Mini Nutcracker. It is perfect for young girls. We dress up, have dinner, see the production and have a sleep over. We also love to make one trip to Opryland Hotel to walk around inside and out enjoying the lights. We don’t do it every year, but we’ve also gone to see A Christmas Story at TPAC. — Belinda Dinwiddie Havron, director of donor education
“This is the 10th year that The Ornaments, made up of Jen Gunderman, James Haggerty and Martin Lynds — have performed Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas at The Family Wash. I haven’t missed a year yet. They’re also performing at Third & Lindsley and The Belcourt. Also at the Belcourt, I try to never miss It’s A Wonderful Life, which plays on 35mm for the entire week prior to Christmas. It’s amazing how many times I’ve seen this movie, and it never gets old! I grab a hot chocolate (sometimes, admittedly, a little spiked) and popcorn and remember that no one man is a failure that has friends. If time and room in my stomach allows, I also try to catch the Feast of the Seven Fishes menu at Mangia Nashville in Franklin. — Joe Pagetta, director of community initiatives, NowPlayingNashville.com and GivingMatters.com.
“One of my favorite holiday traditions is to attend The Nashville Ballet production of The Nutcracker! Beautiful music, artistic dance and the joy of the season!” — Pat Cole, scholarship/TIP coordinator
“I always go to Tree Land in Watertown to cut my own fresh tree every year because I like the idea of buying trees that are grown in Tennessee. Since it’s sort of a drive to Watertown, I take my dog and make a day of it, letting her run around the farm. And they always have hot chocolate, cider and cookies too!” — Mary Able, financial service, Childcare Tennessee and ChildcareNashville.com
“What started as a tradition for two, my husband and I liked to cuddle up and kick off our holiday season with an annual viewing of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Since our family has since grown, we’ve been working on establishing BRAND NEW traditions to create special memories for our little one. When our daughter was an infant, we ventured out to soak in the millions of lights at Opryland Hotel, and the following year cruised through the synchronized light show at Jellystone Park. This year, we are happy to see the weather hold out to enjoy the lighting of Metro Christmas Tree Lighting and hope to attend the 62nd Annual Nashville Christmas Parade the following day.” — Kelly Walberg, social media and online marketing coordinator
And in the not-necessarily-getting-out-to-events department, but still fun ….
“About 30 years ago, I started making wine cork reindeer for my family friends and co-workers. For years, I’d saved wine corks (for what reason I don’t know) and one day I saw a reindeer made out of wood and twigs in someone’s front yard. I thought, ‘I could make those out of wine corks and pipe cleaners’, so I did and I’ve been making about 50 of them every year since! We obviously enjoy wine in our household, but friends and family make regular cork donations to the yearly “herd!” — Liza Lentz, Women’s Fund coordinator
“For the past 20 plus years, I have spent the holidayzzzz 🙂 with my best friend and her family (who I lovingly refer to as my adopted family) in Culleoka, Tennessee. On Christmas morning around 5 a.m., we leave the big city of NashVegas to arrive in the small town of Culleoka promptly at 7 a.m. for a big country breakfast of enough scrambled eggs to feed a small village (only kidding, but we probably cook six to eight dozen eggs for the hoards of family and friends that stop by the [like they say down South] “home place.” There’s county ham; city ham; thick bacon; deer meat (yup, it’s fresh); home made sausage; biscuits, biscuits, biscuits; red eye gravy [yuck!]; a white sausage gravy; brown gravy; green onions; too-maters; home made and store bought jams, jellies, and spreads; farm fresh honey; home made fruit salad; and sometimes a loaf of Mushroom bread right out of the oven. 🙂 We stand in a circle around the kitchen table; someone says the blessing, and we throw down; chow down; start grubbing; put on the feed bag; gobble till we wobble!!!” — Maria Morris, operations manager
Happy Holidays, Middle Tennessee. Be sure to share your traditions in the comments below!