Deck the halls

Did you know? It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas all around Haywood County
By Paul Viau | Nov 29, 2012
Photo by: Paul Viau HAYWOOD'S BIGGEST AND BEST — Year after year J. Arthur's has one of the nicest  Christmas trees in Haywood County. One of the reasons, are the professional decorators — (L to R)  Troy Graves and Scott Nielsen, owners of Maggie Valley's Cabbage Rose.

I’m such a “right jolly old elf” that you might think Christmas is my favorite time of year — but it isn’t.

Like most men, I don’t look forward to dragging 20 or more storage tubs up from the basement, or stringing the icicle lights outside on the deck, or trimming the tree with (at minimum) 10 strings of lights and 50 years’ accumulation of ornaments. Bah humbug!

It’s my wife’s job to “deck the halls” at our house, but I must admit that I thoroughly enjoy the transformation that happens all around (and despite) me: bells on the doorknobs, cherished quilts up on the wall, stockings on the chimney, garlands everywhere, and my hats — I have my own collection of Santa hats that come out every year. Carol (aptly named after Christmas Carol) also brings out her extensive collection of holiday music — everything from Allan Jackson to Ella Fitzgerald, Sting to those stinking Chipmunks.

Now that we have an Apple TV, Carol’s carols will be streaming 24/7, in every room of the house. But during the daytime, I can escape and explore the many quieter Christmas displays throughout Haywood County.

For starters, I don’t think you can find a nicer Christmas tree than this year’s 18-foot beauty at J. Arthur’s restaurant in Maggie Valley.

Did you know? — Every year the staff at J. Arthur’s brings in a special team of ringers and riggers to creatively, and artfully, decorate their tree, from top to bottom. They are none other than Troy Graves and Scott Nielsen, owners of nearby Cabbage Rose, and a handful of their friends.

I think their 2012 effort, pictured here, is “da bomb” of tannenbaums. By the way, J. Arthur’s tree (unlike the Biltmore House behemoth) comes from our own Haywood County, home to many local Christmas tree farms, from none other than Boyd’s Christmas tree farm.

Boyd’s is a preferred destination for people from all over the Midwest, who often spend the weekend in one of Boyd’s quaint log cabins, so they can “choose and cut” their own beautiful Christmas tree.

I had the opportunity a couple years ago to accompany students from Jonathon Valley Elementary to Boyd’s on their field trip to “choose and cut” their school tree. I don’t know who had more fun — the students, the teachers or the “glowing” Boyd family. Personally, I’ll treasure that day and seeing the “true meaning of Christmas” on the faces of all those boys and girls.

Ah, youth. It’s wasted on the young. But I digress.

Back to Haywood County, where you can see signs of upcoming Christmas just about everywhere. Even Jake Marzullo, Maggie Valley’s carver extraordinaire, has nestled a few hand-carved Santas and Christmas trees amidst the ever-changing pack of bears. That guy’s got talent, for sure!

Speaking about talent, I must come back to Cabbage Rose, which is packed to the brim with Christmas treasures of all shapes and sizes, many personally designed by owners Graves and Nielsen.

(Another) Did you know? — This talented pair was recently recognized by their peers for the outstanding design and creativity of their booth at the annual Charlotte Christmas Show. Cabbage Rose in Maggie Valley is 10 times the size of their booth. You really must see it.

Speaking of “must-see” Christmas experiences, Waynesville has its own store where (as the name implies) Christmas is Everyday. Owner Deanna Schleifer has gifts and decorations for all the Christmas-lovers on your list. And BTW, her storefront is a great place to pose for your family pictures with Santa.

Which reminds me, how much I miss Nina Snow and her treasure of a store, Cackleberry Mountain. I’ve had so much fun over the years — chiding “Mrs. Snow” about the cause/effect nature of her decorative snowflakes. We miss you, Nina, but so far this season — I don’t miss the snow!

You know, now that I have wheezed on for over 700 words, I’m starting to get into the swing of this whole Christmas thing.

Truth be known, it’s one of my favorite times here in Haywood County — which reminds me to remind you to shop local. We are blessed with an abundance of hometown, homespun gift sources. They are all around us. Happy shopping.