Holiday mania is already (happily) upon us

It’s only mid-November, but here at The Beachcomber, we’re already waist deep in the winter holidays.

And if you don’t think that a freight train full of jingle bells, dreidels and solstice candles is hurtling toward the Island like the the Polar Express, just pick up a copy of this newspaper in the coming weeks.

You’ll be in for plenty of holiday treats.

My capable colleagues have just put the finishing touches on the paper’s annual Holiday Gift Guide, a definitive 16-page compendium chock-full of suggestions about how to shop locally and enjoy the bounty of the holidays. The guide will drop as a supplement tucked into next week’s paper — watch for it, because I don’t see how anyone on the Island could get through December without it.

Especially me, because over here at the arts desk, I’m starting to feel like an overwhelmed, non-union elf who drew the short toothpick and wound up working the graveyard shift in Santa’s workshop.

My e-mail inbox is bursting at the seams with notices about upcoming holiday-themed events on the Island. I need to write about each and every one of them, but how will I do them all justice?

Here’s a preview of what’s coming around the bend.

During the first two weekends in December, more than 100 Island artists will throw open the doors to their studios as part of the annual Vashon Island Holiday Art Studio Tour. It’s the perfect chance to buy beautifully handcrafted gifts, but pace yourself, because after an afternoon of power shopping, you’re going to need to get dressed up and head out to a show.

The 80-voice-strong Vashon Island Chorale has been practicing for months for their holiday concert, which will take place at Bethel Church on Dec. 4 and 5. You don’t want to miss that.

The same weekend, Blue Heron dancers will get up on pointe to perform The Nutcracker Ballet at Vashon High School.

That production, however, is not to be confused with Vashon Junior Civic’s Ballet’s presentation of the same ballet. That version, filled with a whole different troupe of mice and sugar plum fairies, will take place at the high school the following two weekends.

December will also boast a new Church of Great Rain holiday-themed extravaganza of comedy and music, a Solstice celebration at Open Space for Arts and Community, a touring production of “Owen Meany’s Christmas Pageant” staged at Vashon Communty Care, an appearance by Steffon Moody as the Grinch at Ober Park, and a brand-new Drama Dock comedy romp, “Nuncrackers.”

And how could I forget Vashon Island Youth Chorus’ production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” slated for performances on Dec. 9 through 12? There are so many angelic little singers in the chorus this year that director Marita Ericksen has double-cast the show.

Good grief, Charlie Brown, indeed. I think we’re going to need a bigger arts page.

And keep in mind that I not only have to write about all these things, but I also have to attend them, since my children, who are quickly establishing themselves as the unofficial underaged ambassadors of all things show-biz on Vashon, have signed up to sing, dance and act up a storm in at least half of the events that are mentioned above.

But you know what? I can’t wait for December. It’s the best holiday gift of all — to live in such a vibrant place, filled with so many fun things to do. We’re so lucky, and we shouldn’t forget it in all the hustle and bustle of the season.

So bring on the holiday cheer, complete with shows, shopping, concerts, ballets and, for me, endless copy to track, edit and put on our weekly arts page. I’m ready.

— Elizabeth Shepherd is The Beachcomber’s arts editor.

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