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It's December! What does that mean? Well, mostly it means that it's cold outside. We've been lucky so far with weather for the most part, but those of us in the know with the state's seasonal cycles know that we could get hit any time, any place. Already we've had tons of ice.

So last week's newsletter, I talked about my Thanskgiving, all of which I had at not Plattsmouth. So this week, we bring you to the heart of Main Street for the Home for the Holidays extravaganza! WARNING though to those of you with slower modems or computers: this newsletter contains content of a graphic nature; that is to say, there are a lot of pictures (but all of them are appropriate, I promise!). 

Open Hearts Kitchen
Date: Thursday, February 15, and every Thursday after that
Place: First United Methodist Church (702 Main Street)
Time: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Price: FREE
Menu: Soup, sandwiches, vegetables, fresh fruit, drinks, and dessert
Details: Is your family struggling to make ends meet? Do you have to skimp on meals or skip meals just to get by? If so, you are invited to the Open Hearts Kitchen. No questions asked, no judgements made, no lectures given, just good food and good fellowship
The hometown holidays event was a huge success! In spite of the rather frigid weather, the turnout was remarkable. It was simultaneously the day I spent 8 hours in traffic school (ouch) for my speeding ticket, which was less horrendous than one might think. I left straight from there at 120th and M to head in the entirely opposite direction for Plattsmouth, which incidentally seemed like quite a long drive after such a long day (and it didn't help I was too daft to pay attention to exits to the interstate to speed things up).
When I arrived, not much was happening. Things were still being set up for later in the evening. I did catch sight of Senator Pankonin, along with some other familiar faces who were all asking, "Where's your dad?" My answer was, "I don't have any idea." I really didn't, since I was there alone and he was, to my knowledge, at home. Ironically, he was covering Weeping Water's holiday event I attended last year and the one before, which I missed for this one. Given the deliciousness of the soup, I can tell you it was a shame. But the time I had at this one made up for it.
I started off the evening seeing something I'd really not seen before in the streets:
A horse of course! It was, in fact, a one-horse open carridge. And this was a horse of a different size. It was massive, about as tall as I am (and I'm about 5'9'', keep in mind) and was pulling behind it a massive carridge. The line was small at this point, so I took the opportunity to have myself a ride which I shared with two young girls who found the cold undaunting to their talk. I snapped this picture in the midst of things.
Night had fallen in the sky by this point, but it was still only around 6:00. The young girl Ariel mentioned that her mother was the Holly Queen, and next year she will be the Snow Princess. We'll get back to the former later. But by the time we did get back to where we started, the line for the rides had increased quite a bit!

So for the rest of the setup time, I wandered the streets and looked in on a few places to see what was what. When I dropped in the Clothesline store, you wouldn't believe what I found: An ELF!
Isn't that the cutest outfit you've ever seen? They had an awesome sale going during the event as well, and it was a pleasure to drop in there a moment to get warm.before taking back to the streets. They had a tantalizing little array of refreshments as well.
Since things were mostly quiet still at this point, I stopped into this place with a curious sign reading "Christmas Cafe." There I met an interesting man with a guitar and a santa hat named Terry.
He was singing Christmas carols while coffee was offered for those who wished to sit and listen. He played the traditional fare of Silver Bells first, but I couldn't get his son to sing along with me. Terry is a professional musician who makes his home in Plattsmouth but travels the country. I liked the song he sang about Mary and the cherry tree which bent to let her pick some to eat while she was with child. It took a little while there before I was willing to go back out into the night where everything was chilly like it was Christmas day already.
And what are all these people waiting for? Well, much like Christmas, they were awaiting Santa! It was nearing 6:30 (or so I was led to believe), which meant that the Christmas tree would soon be lit up brightly for the season upon Santa's arrival upon the fire truck. While I did get shots of that, let's just say my poor little camera was already going crazy with the lack of lighting as you can see above. In the meantime, carolers made this cold much more bearable with their music while the children waited anxiously.
But even being that little old driver so lively and quick, I did get some pictures of our friend, Saint Nick.
And in this shot as well is Patty Jo Peterson, Journal staff editor extrodinaire gathering her information and pictures. "Keep your camera batteries warm, or they'll freeze up on you," she told me while warming the indicated area on her own much nicer camera. I had no idea that could happen, so I took the warning to heart and gave some care to my own.
At the coming of the half-hour, Santa sheparded all the children about the tree for its lighting.
Where they all awaited the moment it would be lit. When the moment came, the tree made a beautiful sight in the dark.
I have a lot of fond memories of tree-lighting from my youth, right down to the entangled trench of plugs which connected into each other in a haphazard power strip. It's always a wonder to me that people don't set their houses on fire more often with these electric cacophanies we call trees; perhaps it is one of the many miracles that happen around Christmas time.
When it was time for Santa to go, he left in style aboard the carridge in great merriment with elves in tow.
 And with Santa gone, I was free to go visit his reindeer. I wasn't alone in this, either.
I do find it amusing that the reindeer look so utterly unthrilled with this entire process of being brought into a little corral to be petted by myriads of small humans. But look how much the children love seeing them! This reindeer roundup was a thrill for them, and a chance to see some pretty amazing animals up close without them simply dashing or dancing or prancing away.
After participating in part with the animal nearness ritual, I went in to the coup de grace of Christmas events: the sitting on Santa's lap. There I found the aforementioned Holly Queen greeting the children and handing them different candies from her basket.
Isn't that just the prettiest outfit?
When I arrived, Santa had not yet come, and there was a line of people wrapped all the way inside the building to see the Big Red Man. Once he did arrive, many adorable photo opportunities followed suit.
I have more shots of Santa and kids, but way too many to keep adding them here. Some of the interesting things requested included Hannah Montana anything, or simple things like a dolly. I'm a little too far removed from childhood to be quite up on all the latest trends for the current desires of the wee ones.
 Outside, there were people hanging about on the streets. The Santa light provided an opportunity for another photo, as it had a curiously strong reflection.
Finally, I got some pictures of the streets themselves and all the people wandering about on them in spite of the cold. You couldn't go anyplace without being offered some hot drink to counter the outdoors though, from cocoa to coffee to cider along with myriads of different holiday treats.
All in all, it was a fascinating evening. Ironically, I missed the ping-pong ball drop which drew such a massive crowd. Still, I think I managed to hang around enough places to make for some interesting content. Thank you to the Plattsmouth Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring the event, along with all the businesses, organizations, and individuals who contributed to the success of the holiday spectacular. It might not be Christmas yet, but it's coming closer with every minute. This of course begs the question: have you done your holiday shopping yet? I sure haven't. See you all next week!