Before Christmas 2018 is totally out of my mind, I want to tell you about this year’s unique holiday experiences. If you are a reader of my newsletter, you know that my family spent Christmas in Nashville, Tennessee. In the newsletter, I mentioned that I would write a post about our time there, since we had several new and different experiences. So here goes —
Due to everyone’s schedules, we had our family Christmas celebration on Saturday and Sunday. We ate, opened gifts, and ate again. On Sunday we went to church in between breakfast and lunch. Obviously food traditions are a large part of our celebration.
Beer and Carols
On Sunday evening, we went to a local craft brewery for their “Beer and Carols” Christmas event. My daughter and son-in-law who live in Nashville have been to the event several times, but for most of the family, this was a first.
Although not usually near the top of the list for best beer cities in the US, Nashville is home to several successful craft breweries. I’m not a huge beer fan, but I enjoy going with my girls and their spouses and can usually find something I like.
The Beer and Carols event is hosted by The Black Abbey Brewing Company. Black Abbey based its name and focuses its decor and theme on an event in history. Martin Luther, the originator of the Protestant Reformation, married a woman who held a brewer’s license. After they were married, she continued to brew, creating some of the best beers in Germany at the time.
Black Abbey holds Beer and Hymns sing-alongs several times each year in addition to the Christmas carol sing. We purchased tickets in advance for the event. The ticket included supper of Texas chili and a baked potato bar, desert, one beer, and the night’s entertainment.
We had a great time singing along with the carols. We even sang the Hallelujah Chorus! The words were all provided in a program, so we didn’t have to know them from memory. We were also treated to special numbers by Elvis, Einstein, and other celebrities. If you ever plan to be in Nashville around the holidays, check it out.
Frist Art Museum
I’ve been to the Frist Art Museum before and our visit this season wasn’t related to the holiday, but it is still worth mentioning. The Frist opened in April, 2001, in the large Art Deco building which housed Nashville’s main post office from 1934 until 1986. The museum does not own its own collection but welcomes traveling exhibits and creates it’s own by borrowing works from around the world.
There were three exhibits on display when we were there. The first, and the one I most wanted to see, was entitled, Paris 1900: City of Entertainment. The exhibit which focused on the Parisian Belle Époque, included over 300 works gathered from Paris museums. As a fan of anything Paris, I loved it!
The second exhibit, Do Ho Suh: Specimens is contemporary in nature. I was first introduced to Suh when I viewed his exhibit in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Suh works with gossamer fabric to create sculptures of rooms and their contents. The Frist exhibit included a bathroom sink, a toilet, and a kitchen stove among other works.
Finally, Life, Love & Marriage Chests in Renaissance Italy was a display of cassoni, or marriage chests, used in 15th century Italy. Similar in size and purpose to hope chests of 80 years ago in our country, these pieces were decorated with elaborate narrative paintings. Although some pieces remain intact, others were cut apart and remade into furniture or framed pieces.
Cheekwood Estate and Gardens
In the early evening on Christmas Eve, three family members and I went to Cheekwood Estate and Gardens. Although I’ve been to Cheekwood several times in the past, this was the first time I was there around Christmas and was able to see the Christmas lights.
We purchased timed-entry tickets ahead of time, but some tickets were also available at the entrance. There was a discount for members (which we all were) but membership did not cover the entire cost as it would on a normal day. The gardens were not crowded, even though it seemed we had to park further away than usual.
We were asked to follow a certain path and were not able to roam freely throughout the gardens. Some areas were not lit well enough for visitors, but there was plenty to see. In the first section, the path was lit with flower trees – pink, yellow, green, and white. We loved the flower trees, and didn’t notice until later that each entire tree was artificial and just brought in for the event.
We continued on through the arbor and along the outer path until we came to the pond. Large tree-shaped light trellises were scattered around in the pond, showing off their reflections. Each step gave us another beautiful viewpoint.
We wound our way up to the mansion which was carefully decorated for Christmas. We especially liked the living room filled with antique toys and books. After a peek into the gift shop, we continued outside. The front lawn of the mansion had a light display that flickered to the tune of Christmas carols.
We walked through the train garden and saw more light displays, finally arriving back where we had started.
When we got back to the house we ate a quick supper before having our Jólabókaflóð (Yule Book Flood) celebration. The idea was not related to Nashville, but just new to us. The celebration originated in Iceland, where new books are released to the market in the last few months of the year. Books are exchanged on Christmas Eve and participants enjoy reading while eating chocolate or sipping hot chocolate. It was a relaxing way to end the day.
All the family members that were still around got together one last time on Christmas Day. We enjoyed brunch and then spent time relaxing. In the late afternoon and into evening we enjopyed a three-course fondue dinner. It was nice to not have to rush.
We had a very nice, although very different, Christmas celebration this year. Next year, we will probably celebrate at my house, but we will go back to Nashville again.
How was your Christmas?