A Bountiful Holiday Season (Even in a Pandemic)

By Meg Walburn Viviano 

It was almost exactly one year ago when I first stepped into the Bay Weekly office in Annapolis to meet the staff of the newspaper we’d be acquiring come January 2020. I was welcomed into founder Sandra Olivetti Martin’s office with warm words and doggie kisses from Chester the office pooch. 

I left the office a bit overwhelmed, I’ll confess, with an armful of Bay Weekly papers. Stacked on top was Season’s Bounty, their special holiday issue with a jolly storybook Santa on the cover and chock-full of festive holiday events inside.  

I leafed through, curious about what constitutes a “season’s bounty” anyway. The phrase is traditionally used in the context of a plentiful harvest. Both a fruit farm in Northern Virginia and a maker of “fine artisan preserves” in England use the name.  

Bay Weekly’s Season’s Bounty, which bears the slogan “Your Essential Guide to the Holidays”, is gathered just as lovingly as a late-season produce harvest bound for the farmer’s market. Instead of fruits and vegetables, however, this bounty is one of tree lightings, Nutcracker performances, and Santa sightings. 

Seeing the 2019 holiday guide made me think of my family’s own December traditions growing up in Chesapeake Country: Freezing my buns off on a powerboat ride at night to spectate the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade; shoving a fat, fresh-cut Christmas tree through our front door, leaving a trail of pine-needle carnage behind; baking dozens and dozens of cookies for the annual Severna Park High marching band holiday cookie sale (each family was required to turn in 16 dozen homemade cookies—how’s that for bounty?). 

When we officially took the reins of Bay Weekly in Januarywe had no reason to think this December’s holiday guide would look any different than the newspaper’s usual roundup of merriment. Of course, we couldn’t have predicted that Maryland would be in its second spike of a worldwide pandemic by now, and that so many events where we love to gather would be off-limits. 

In keeping with our positive approach to 2020, we’re not dwelling on the laundry list of what’s canceled. We’re here to tell you what you can look forward to for the holiday season. Performances? They’ll be a blend of virtual and in-person. Photos with Santa? Yes, but no lap-sitting. Train displays? Several are still happening, much to the relief of my train-loving little boys, who willingly don their tiny face masks for a chance to see the elaborate miniature villages. 

Driving or strolling after dark to take in light displays may be one of the most pandemic-friendly activities this year, as you’ll see in our story on drive-thru and walk-thru displays around Chesapeake Country (https://bayweekly.com/2020-illuminations/).

A lot of people are going big with home light displays, too, bringing extra cheer to their neighborhoods. Decorating started earlier than ever this year. We want to get in on the fun, too, with a contest for best holiday home decorations. Submit your photos to [email protected]eekly.com between now and Dec. 20 for a chance to be featured in our Christmas issue! 

From all of us at CBM Bay Weekly, may your holidays be bountiful.