There is much to see and do in Crook County during the holidays

I was struck recently, as I decorated the house with the family, by how there really isn't another time of the year quite like the Christmas season.

A glance around my home features garland strung over the fireplace mantle, with a string of white lights added for good measure. The window sills each boast ceramic houses, snowmen and Santas carefully painted by my more artistic wife – as well as a few others painted more haphazardly by me and the kiddos when they were barely old enough to hold a paintbrush.

We had just picked up the tree, and seemingly chose the coldest possible moment in Prineville thus far to do it. After the tree and our hands thawed out, we had gotten the tree on its stand and all was going pretty well – the lights were on and half the ornaments hung.

Then, as my back was turned, I hear a panicked "Oh no!" followed by a crash. The tree had somehow tipped over, stand and all. Apparently, we had misjudged how straight up and down it was — and forgot to fill the tree stand with water for a little counter-weight.

I am happy to report none of the ornaments met their demise, and my wife and I managed to stand the tree back up and bicker for only a few moments as we debated whether we were safe from another mishap.

Of course, ours is not the only house that is dressed in holiday cheer. It seems that a lot of people in town got an early start on their outdoor décor, and some of them clearly invested a lot of time and energy. Some may have even channeled their inner Clark Griswold — hopefully minus the destructive tirade.

A cruise through town will also reveal the result of small-town charm in a community. The courthouse looks very festive, the lamppost light displays are a nice touch that people have come to expect each year, and those really looking for their Christmas fix better make sure to head to the fairgrounds where Christmas in the Pines boasts a splendid lights attraction, and the Grimes Display offers wall-to wall holiday decorations that will delight children and adults alike.

And speaking of the fairgrounds, two other major events are headquartered there each Christmas season that offer another glimpse into what sets this season apart, particularly in Prineville. I had a chance to stop by the sold-out Hospice Christmas Auction and take several photos of tree displays that demonstrate an amazing amount of dedication and skill to create. Hopefully, you took a look at some of them featured in some of our recent newspaper editions.

The auction has raised an astounding amount of money through the years for St. Charles Hospice — and this year was no exception as the event netted $108,000. If you ever want to see the generosity of Crook County's residents on display, the Hospice Auction is the place to go. One tree, Silver Saloon, sold for $6,900, and a quilt sold for an impressive $8,000.

At the other end of the fairgrounds, volunteers are working tirelessly to collect gifts, food and clothes for people who are struggling with hardships this season. The Holiday Partnership is most impressive on their distribution days when seemingly hundreds of gift bags and food boxes fill Carey Foster Hall and other adjacent buildings, waiting to go to grateful recipients.

Yes, the Christmas season is unlike any other, prompting hundreds of movies and thousands of songs on the subject. Trees end up indoors, and as legend has it, a fat man in a white beard and red suit takes to the skies in a sleigh pulled by reindeer – one of which has a glowing red nose. Entire towns are dressed up for the occasion, and the spirit of giving, whether to family or total strangers in need, increases to an all-time high.

So I wish all of your readers and your friends and families a Merry Christmas and encourage you to dive in and experience everything your community has to offer. If you have the means, take the opportunity to give to the Holiday Partnership or any other charity of your choice. And finally, if you do put up a Christmas tree, slap a level on it and fill up the base with water, lest your tree topple to the ground like mine.

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