Friday, November 9, 2012

Deck the Halls A Cape May Christmas

Deck the Halls A Cape May Christmas - Jean Barraclough

     A lot of people I know tell me that by the time Christmas actually gets here, they are sick of it…sick of the Christmas music, the decorations, the crowds (and probably sick of me saying how much I love it!). Obviously, I’m not one of them. I gear up the Friday after Thanksgiving and it’s all about Christmas from there to Dec. 25. I can’t even count how many sappy Hallmark movies I’ve already watched…even the ones I watched umpteen times before.
A Cape May Christmas

     Here in Cape May, one of my favorite Christmas events are the Christmas Candlelight House Tours. We do these on three Saturday nights, so you still have time to get in on the fun.
The first year I was here, I was on one of the trolleys. We run all five of our trolleys on a continuous shuttle all night, and a MAC staff person goes along to help people find the houses they want to see, and let them know what to expect at each stop.

     Naturally, my first year, I had only the slightest idea what houses were at each stop. I tried to blame it on the fact that I was riding backwards, facing the passengers, when I would blithely point out a particular inn to the right, only to have the driver whisper, “No, it’s to the left!” Thank goodness I had a driver who knew where he was going or those passengers might still be looking for the inns.

Christmas in Victorian Cape May NJ

     In other years, I was stationed at some of the inns participating in the tours. This is the best part of these tours: Not only do you get to see all the beautiful outdoor decorations that I just can’t get enough of, but you get to go inside these inns, too, something you normally wouldn’t get to do unless you were a guest there.
Cape May’s innkeepers are a breed apart when it comes to making people feel welcome. I don’t know how cheerful I could be as hundreds of people trooped through my house, but these folks are accommodating and pleased to show off their beautiful properties.

     For the past few years, I’ve taken a turn here at the Physick Estate, where the Carriage House is open as a hospitality area and for people to see the Christmas exhibit. I’m telling you, if you haven’t seen it this year, don’t miss it!

     We make coffee and hot chocolate, offer cookies, directions and suggestions on which houses to visit next. Remember, some of those on the tour are newcomers to town and they’re trying to find their way around in the dark.

Take a Tour in Cape May during Christmas
     What’s most special about it, no matter where I’ve been stationed, is the people on the tour who are infused with the spirit of the season. One Candlelight Tour a few years ago, we had a rainy night and people were coming in covered with plastic bags and anything else they could find to keep dry. But they were still having a good time.

     It’s hard not to. With the beautiful lights and decorations, the music, the warmth and welcome of the innkeepers and property owners, how can you not have a good time? This is the answer to the Christmas spirit that is jaded or just buried beneath mountains of life’s problems. Come to Cape May and come back to Christmas.

Jean Barraclough is director of marketing and communications at Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC)

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