Whether you’re still eating Thanksgiving leftovers or already launched into a gift-buying frenzy, you’re undoubtedly aware of the approaching holiday. And no matter what you do to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ or the arrival of Santa Claus, I wish each and every one of you the gift of peace.
I’m not talking about world peace here, I’m referring to the pursuit of personal tranquility. You can’t buy it in a store and you won’t find it wrapped under your Christmas tree. It typically finds you when you’re not looking for it.
It finds me during this season when I see a little girl hug a princess on Main Street during the Holiday Parade, when I ring the bell on behalf of the Salvation Army outside a local grocery store, when I catch a glimpse of an elderly couple in the first row singing Christmas carols along with my brass band, when I get to watch the girl from church take on a new role in her annual performance of the Nutcracker, when I take time to take a meal to someone recovering from surgery or exchange holiday traditions with the foreign exchange student staying with us.
While it’s really easy to get stressed out with all the expectations and busyness, I would encourage you to find time to experience the joy of the season by participating in a least a few of the wonderful holiday offerings to fill your soul with happiness and peace.
I have a few suggestions for you which I’m listing in no particular order, except that I have to start with my brass band.
A Brass Christmas
The Belle City Brassworks will perform two concerts filled with holiday favorites, including a good old-fashioned sing-along, on Wednesdays, Dec. 12 and 19, starting at 7:30 p.m., first at Living Faith Lutheran Church, 2915 Wright Ave. and then at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 2023 Northwestern Ave. There’s no admission fee, but a free-will offering will be collected.
Here’s a chance to help those needing the warmth of a blanket and hear some great music. McAuliffe’s Pub, 3700 Meachem Road, will host its 12th Annual Blankfest on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7-8. There’s a great lineup of bands and admission is one blanket. All donations will be distributed to the Women’s Resource Center, HALO, Hope Center, Faith Love & Hope and the Hospitality Center
Santa in Shoebox
Diana Higgenbottom and her elves are collecting and distributing shoeboxes full of blessings for the 10th year in Racine. Those who want to help can donate a shoebox filled with things such toys, gift cards, socks, gloves, crayons, coloring books – anything to bring a little joy to someone’s holiday season. Drop-off locations include Malicki’s Piggly Wiggly, 5201 Washington Ave. and Javier’s Cuisine, 2011 Lathrop Ave. The recipients could include families or individuals suffering from economic collapse, job loss, homelessness, poverty or other unfortunate situation.
The Story of the Nutcracker
The Studio of Classical Dance Arts proudly presents this holiday favorite on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15-16 at “The Rita” on the University of Wisconsin-Parkside campus. Children and adults of all ages will love this enchanting classic ballet set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score. The performance runs approximately an hour and a half with one intermission and is appropriate for all ages. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $8 for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at ClassicalDanceArts.com.
Christmas at the Mansions
Tours of three historic mansions will be featured from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, Nov. 21-Dec. 19, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. Visitors will tour the Racine Masonic Center, 1012 Main St.; The Christmas House, 116 10th St., and Lochnaiar Inn, 1121 Lake Ave. All are within walking distance of each other and will be decorated for Christmas. Each event will feature a raffle, baked goods, food trucks and lights in the park.
A Christmas Carol: The Musical
Capturing the hearts of audience members young and old alike, Ebenezer Scrooge returns to tell the story of redemption and hope. A stingy miser, Scrooge faces the consequences of his life through the visits of three ghosts – Past, Present, and Future. He learns the importance of family and friendship in one night, spreading love and charity from that day forward. Rousing music, memorable characters, and an unforgettable tale will leave you filled with holiday cheer! Tickets are available at the Racine Theatre Guild box office, 2519 Northwestern Ave., Monday – Friday, 12-6 p.m., (262) 633-4218, $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (62+) and $15 for students (21 & under).
Music & More Sing-along and Cookie Caper
A very special edition of Music & More will take place on Friday, Dec 14 at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church, 716 College Ave. It’s the first ever Music & More Holiday Sing-Along, open to anyone in the community, so bring your friends. Performing will be song leader Mark Paffrath, Brett Lipshutz—flute and penny whistle with Randy Gosa—guitar, Ben Nelson—piano, the Choral Arts & First Presbyterian Backup Singers and YOU! No admission charge—a freewill offering will be taken, which will benefit the church’s regional Presbytery Mission Fund and Music & More Youth Scholarships. Home baked refreshments and handcrafted cookies pre-boxed for sale to take home.
14th Annual Nativity on Monument Square
Presented by the Community Christmas Coalition Dec. 1-29, open 24/7. Carolers and instrumentalists encouraged (no amplification please). Pathway through ice/snow provided for disabled and elderly viewers.
16th Street Studios
Find unique gifts and support local artists at the 23rd annual 16th Street Studios Open House on Saturday, Dec. 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Racine Business Center, 1405 16th St. There is no admission fee. The event offers the public a chance to explore and purchase artwork from 65 resident artists and their guest artists. The range of media include paint, sculpture, mixed media, printmaking, photography, ceramics and jewelry. View the winter exhibition at Gallery on 16th where many artists are represented. Additional attractions include live music performances, a step back in time at the Spirit of the Racine Entrepreneur Museum and lunch at Chez Bob’s. For more information visit www.racineartsandbusinesscenter.com/16th-street-studios/ or contact Emily Montgomery at 262-637-3958, email@example.com
Lessons and Carols
The Choral Arts Society of Southeastern Wisconsin will present a holiday concert, Lessons and Carols, for the entire family at the Siena Center, 5637 Erie Street. The performance begins at 3 p.m. This concert will honor the 100th anniversary of The Service of Nine Lessons and Carols. The wondrous Christmas story is told through spiritual readings and transcendent music. The 65 voices of CAS will be enhanced by the accomplished guest soloist, baritone Nicholas Barootian, and the festive tones of the Choral Arts Brass. Local choirs will lend their voices to an original version of “Silent Night” in celebration of the 200th anniversary of that beloved carol. Tickets: Adults $15 in advance/$17 at the door, Seniors $12 in advance/$14 at the door, Students $5. Advance tickets available at Personal Touch Florists in Racine at 5445 Spring St., or online at choralartsonline.org, or at the door. Contact the CAS by Email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 262-634-3250.
Dinner with Elvis – Gospel Christmas
On Saturday, Dec. 8, Infusino’s Banquet Hall, 3201 Rapids Dr., will host Elvis Presley tribute artist Jon Van Thiel presents “Gospel Christmas” highlighting Elvis’ gospel and holiday hits. $45 per person – includes dinner, show, dessert and gratuity. Doors open 5 p.m. Dinner at 6 p.m. Show at 7 p.m. Reservation deadline is Wednesday, Dec. 5. Call (262) 676-2690.
Holiday Pops Concert
The Racine Symphony Orchestra will be joined by students from Park High School and The Prairie School to perform new and old holiday favorites on Friday, Dec. 7 at Festival Hall, 5 Fifth St. an hour and starting at 7 p.m., doors open at 5:30 p.m. $25, free for students 20 and younger. Food from O&H Danish Bakery will be available for purchase. For more information, call (262) 636-9285 or visit racinesymphony.org.
A Very Merry Guild Christmas
Celebrate Christmas time at the Racine Theatre Guild! It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the RTG is singing glad tidings of joy in our holiday concert that will turn any Scrooge into a believer. Old songs along with some new favorites will be performed by our Signature musicians and performers. Start your holiday out right and join us for A Very Merry Guild Christmas on Saturday, Dec. 22 for performances at 2 or 7 p.m. at the theatre, located at 2519 Northwestern Ave. For tickets, call (262) 633-4128 or visit racinetheatre.org.