What’s it like in the city on a holiday? What’s going on and what is there to do? The answers to those questions are likely as varied as the number of people you’d care to ask. There’s enough happening to satisfy any number of tastes. I’ll give you a sample of the kinds of things I’ll do and a few I’ll consider around the edges.
Like many of you (I hope), we’ll have family visiting. Urban Father and his wife joined us Sunday and they’ll be here until Friday. Urban Daughter, Son-in-Law, Urban Girl and Urban Boy will be around most days and Urban Brother makes a special appearance Thursday through Saturday. As you know, sometimes you have to adjust a bit in consideration of everyone involved.
We’ve already started the week by taking in the Blue Plate Special. We caught Jay Clark with Daniel Kimbro and Greg Horne, much to everyone’s pleasure. We may try to attend others as the week goes on. It’s an amazing thing, this high-quality, free, daily music we enjoy. To share it with visitors from out-of-town kind of blows their minds. I like that.
Thanksgiving Day is my favorite holiday of the year for a variety of reasons. It seems a little quieter than the others, for starters. It’s pretty much family, food, a parade and naps. Hard to argue with any of that. I also like the idea of pausing to acknowledge the good in our life and being thankful for its sources. If there is a war on a holiday, it’s this one, which increasingly gets dwarfed by that holiday I refuse to think about until after the fourth Thursday in November.
I don’t think so much about the pilgrims who would in short order dispatch with their indigenous hosts. I’ll be thankful for family, friends, my city, each of you and the good fortune I have to live a very comfortable life. We’ll also join the downtown effort to take a little food to the Downtown Fire Station (and you can, too, right here) in gratitude for what they do all year. Of course, we’ll have a big spread for eight this year and think of the people who are missing from around that table.
5 Bar offers a very cool alternative: a free meal for anyone who’s so inclined. Donations are accepted and encouraged to be commensurate with the cost of the meal. All proceeds go to the Love Kitchen and volunteer servers are needed. Last year Urban Woman and I – in the absence of friends or family with whom to spend the holiday – attended this dinner and shared our table with a new homeless friend. It was very moving and I encourage it.
I also look for a chance to slip out alone or with one other family member for a long Thanksgiving walk around the city. Especially early, it’s quiet and peaceful. It’s an unofficial Open Streets event, a good time for solitude in a normally busy space. Most businesses are closed, people are warm and inside with family, a few leaves blowing here and there, and the streets beckon. Give it a try.
If I’m able and family restraints don’t prevent it, I’ll consider joining the Guy Marshall Thanksgiving Tradition which includes many members of your favorite local bands on the Preservation Pub stage. Not a bad way to end a good day.
I know the day after Thanksgiving is known for its complete shift in gears from turkey to twenty-four hours of shopping. I’m not a big shopper and generally refuse to get out in the middle of the craziness. If you want to shop on Friday, please come downtown and support your local businesses. For somewhere around twenty-five or thirty years, the day after Thanksgiving is our day for attending the Fantasy of Trees at the Convention Center in support of Children’s Hospital.
A nap and dinner of leftovers later, our Friday will continue in Krutch Park for the Lighting of the Christmas Tree (around 6:30 PM) and some hot chocolate or coffee, depending. We generally listen to some of the Ho-Ho-Hoedown on Market Square and enjoy the first night of ice skaters on the square. Optionally, you might want to consider “A Christmas Carol” at the Clarence Brown Theatre or “A Tuna Christmas” at Theatre Knoxville Downtown. (ED NOTE: This is a late addition – I overlooked the spectacular Harmonica Howl at Relix in Happy Holler at 8:00 PM – which will be phenomenal.) If Urban Brother and I have the energy for late-night music, we’ll likely choose between Big Country’s Empty Bottle at Preservation Pub and Woody Pines at Barley’s.
Now you thought I was never going to suggest shopping and you were wrong. Saturday is Small Business Saturday and Indies First Day. We’ve got so many great shops downtown and Knoxville’s only independent book store. This is a day to send a message by supporting them. Please don’t spend most of your money online where it goes to some other city’s (or country’s) economy and then use your left-over dollars locally. Shop local first. Shops line Union Avenue, Market Square, Gay Street, the Old City and, increasingly, Happy Holler. Explore, support, repeat.
I’ll also have to fit in a little college football on Saturday because there are just some parts of my southern roots that always show. Saturday also features a continuation of both Christmas plays mentioned earlier and the Fantasy of Trees, all of which run through Sunday. If I make it to late-night music I’ma hafta go with Blue Mother Tupelo at Barley’s. They are the stuff.
On Sunday morning, if we are sick of the food at the house, we may just slip out to a jazz brunch. Where can we possibly find that in downtown? In several directions as it turns out. Bistro at the Bijou, 5 Bar and Downtown Grill and Brewery all feature jazz and fine brunches. Afterward, you might (as someone reminded me below) attend a fine chamber concert at the Bijou with the KSO Chamber Orchestra (2:30 PM at the Bijou). It’s a great, mellow way to end a long, enjoyable holiday weekend.
So how will you spend your urban holiday? I hope whatever you do, you’ll find time for a few moments of quiet gratitude. A couple of other notes: Congratulations to Matthew Bartley who won two tickets to start his Thanksgiving Holiday off with David Rawlings. Finally, I will take a couple of days off to do the above and enjoy my family. I’ll likely catch back up with you on Saturday.