Tim and I will celebrate our first Christmas in our new Denton home this year.  Thanksgiving?  Well it was a blur.  Having just moved, only our youngest son ventured our way to give thanks and eat dinner.  It’s a good thing, too, because settling in is taking longer than it might were we not sharing our house with contractors still finishing up some necessary updating and remodeling.

We skipped the traditional turkey and opted for steaks on the grill.  Boxes are still stacked, furniture waits to be properly arranged, and a thin layer of worker dust coats the floors.  Life is nowhere near normal or slowing into the usual holiday calm.

120415_ed_steele_wassail_fest_denton_holiday_lighting_festival_2015_denton_tx_28web Photo Credit: Ed Steele Photography

We will, however, host Christmas for the kids this year.  We have this deadline looming over our heads to be finished and settled and, yikes, even decorated all Christmassy by then.  We look around us and are overwhelmed.  We’re making steady progress, and we’re confident we’ll “get ‘er dun.”  But I have to be honest.  The holiday spirit seems remote, something other people are doing.

This is one of the reasons I am looking so forward to this coming weekend.  Denton’s Holiday Lighting Festival and the Denton Main Street Association’s (DMSA) Wassail Weekend always kick off the season for me.  Even when not undertaking a giant life-change like moving houses, there have been seasons when Christmas just wasn’t fitting for some reason.  It happens to everyone, I imagine.  Then we go to Denton’s official Christmas launch, and we leave feeling, well, spirited.

Last year at this time, we at the Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) were lamenting that our welcome center would not be ready for the holiday festivals.  We scrambled and pulled together a pop-up version of our future landmark spot on the square.  We even participated in Wassail Weekend, serving our own tasty secret recipe from a table in front of our welcome center, still under construction at the time.  People loved it.  We had a huge red bow on the building, assuring that we really would be opening soon.

Soon turned out to be six months later, in June.  But oh, has it been worth the wait!  In the past four months since we opened, thousands have visited, many who have watched eagerly since last December to see the finished product.

This year, the Discover Denton Welcome Center is open.  We’ll be serving our wassail and welcoming everyone inside to the truly awesome, far beyond our expectations, Denton store, official visitors center and DentonRadio.com studio.  Dentoning experts and our CVB staff will don Santa hats, and our deejays will be spot on with Christmas favorites and audience engagement.  It will be fun, and we cannot wait!

2015-12-04 Denton, TX. 2015 Annual Holiday Tree Lighting on Denton Court House Square Photo: Junebug Clark Photo Credit: Junebug Clark

The community Christmas tree will light up right across the street from the welcome center.  The courthouse will glow with colors of the season.  Live music, choirs, bands, orchestras and strolling carolers will serenade kids visiting Santa, families enjoying horse-drawn wagon rides, and happy shoppers filling bags with gifts to go under their own Christmas trees.  Everyone will wassail (medieval English holiday greeting) one another while they sip more than 30 special wassail recipes, downtown businesses competing for the coveted Wassail King and Queen crowns.  It is all joyous, home-town and very Norman Rockwell.

Tim and I have enjoyed Holiday Lighting and Wassail Weekend for many years.  In Holiday Lighting’s 28 years of ushering the Christmas spirit into Denton, festival-goers (us included) have celebrated among friends in snow and ice, bitter cold winds, misty rain and yes, in balmy shorts and T-shirt weather.  The point is, the weather is an aside.  The weekend does its job instilling holiday cheer, and the holidays arrive regardless of the weather.

The Holiday Lighting Festival is Friday night, December 2 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.  Wassail Weekend is concurrent with Holiday Lighting Friday night, and continuing on throughout Saturday afternoon.  Both events, held on the Courthouse lawn and in downtown businesses on and off the square, offer free admission.

Perhaps by the time the festive weekend is over, Tim and I will have found our Christmas stuff.  We know it’s among these boxes somewhere.  In spite of the disarray that comes with moving, we filled our little bowl with kernels of Thanksgiving last week.  We have so much for which to be grateful, not the least of which is finally being real, live Dentonites.  Now we will wassail, wander Holiday Lighting and wonder again at the magic of Christmas.

Then we’ll come home and deck these halls!

Featured Image courtesy of Ed Steele Photography