The holidays are really here, ushered in with Midnight Madness on Dec. 1. This is the 39th year for this great family party, and there is a lot to see and do, as usual. First—getting there. This year, there will be a free shuttle running from the Court House parking lot and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at Main and Rogers Avenue to Main Street, from 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. I think your best bet is to park at the Court House and walk down the steps that connect to the parking lot behind the Ellicott Mills Brewing Co. It’s a short walk and a great view. If you are visiting with the kids, Santa will be at the Thomas Isaac Log Cabin from 4 to 8 p.m. There will be the traditional tree lighting in front of the Welcome Center at 6 p.m. There will be carolers, folks in period dress, snacks and treats, and best of all the shops will be open very late. Enjoy!
The holiday train exhibit is up and running at the Railroad Station Museum, with the main event being the LEGO display. The museum now offers free admission so don’t miss it. Also, there is a nice gift shop with so many railroad-related items. Local artist Wiley Purkey has some of his lovely prints on sale at the museum as well. At the Museum of Howard County History on Court Avenue, the Howard County Historical Society is offering its next Lunch Date with History on Friday, Dec. 1 at noon. This time, Ned Tillman will be talking about “Rivers, Rocks and the Railroad.” Tickets are $5, free to Society members.
Nathan Sowers and his wonderful River House Pizza Co. have been a welcome fixture at farmers’ markets and the plaza behind Tonge Row on weekends. He has now opened a restaurant next to Glory Days, across from the Enchanted Forest’s original location on Baltimore National Pike. This is a welcome addition to the suburban dining scene. The next Jazz Jam at the Judge’s Bench will be held Dec. 1, starting at 8:30 p.m. Remember, this is also Midnight Madness night, so you might want to leave home early to manage parking.
My husband Tom and I enjoyed a recent Sunday afternoon holiday shopping on Main Street. Both foot and vehicular traffic were impressive. It’s so good to see the town vibrant again. One of the things that is so nice about small businesses is that each one is unique—both the shop and the merchandise. We concentrated on the upper part of Main Street this trip. First, we went to Su Casa, next to La Palapa. If you are lucky, you can score one of the few parking spaces right outside the door. Inside, the shop is elegant, with a lot of lovely decorative items that would make great gifts, at pretty great prices. It had some very nice Christmas decorations for sale, as well as table décor and cookware. I really liked some coasters made out of Mason jar lids, as well as some enameled tin bowls. We got a couple of stocking stuffers and a bonus of a very nice dish drainer for us. Next, we hit Sweet Elizabeth Jane. This is a huge space with cool industrial-looking cement flooring and tall ceilings. It’s very light and bright and has an excellent selection of, among other things, women’s clothing, soaps, perfumes and candles. I recognized a few things from my Christmas last year—Tom likes to shop there. We also got to A Journey from Junk. It felt strange to cross the threshold outside with the Yates name in tiles (Yates was a grocery store there for decades, just closing a few years ago) and see a riot of Maryland-themed merchandise where the coffee grinder used to be. It has a lot of fun stuff—we bought some sock-monkey inspired mittens for our grandson Henry. Although these shops were very different from each other, they all had one thing in common—a sales staff that was friendly, informed and welcoming. Shop local!