Thursday, December 31, 2009

December Wrap-Up

We experienced a traditional Fredericksburg holiday season this year: the downtown merchants’ open house, the Jaycees’ Christmas parade, holiday concerts, a church pageant, and too much time stuck in traffic on Rt. 3. Best downtown store decorations this year have to go to "A Place in Time" (photos above and below) which is so jam-packed with Christmas decor that it's almost impossible to actually shop.

Our best musical discovery of the season was the Stafford Regional Handbell Society. We caught their performance at the Spotsy Mall (do I ever have to call it the Towne Center?), and these young ringers were a treat to hear. I've joined the budding handchime choir at my church, so I can appreciate the work that goes into their concert. Next year, we'll try to catch their performance at Mount Ararat Baptist Church in North Stafford and avoid the noise and lousy acoustics of the mall.

And this month, we discovered a few new things on our strolls through town. Colonial Cupcakes finally opened, with its staff dressed in full colonial costume (bet the teenagers behind the counter love that uniform). We brought home a couple of samples, the key lime and the red velvet.

The Bella Italia market next to Castiglia’s opened in time for Christmas, a thrilling development for an Italian American like me. For our Christmas buffet, we stocked up on wonderful cheeses and sausage, plus a giant, but light panettone covered in confectioner’s sugar that we referred to as “Sugar Mountain.” (For the culinary purist, it was technically a pandoro, a similar bread also traditionally served at Christmas, but without the dried fruit.) They also have take-out specialities including homemade pasta, lots of deli meats, and Italian grocery items. I highly recommend a visit.

But for me, the most exciting change is that Virginia’s new restaurant anti-smoking law went into effect, where smoking sections now have to be completely separate areas, with their own ventilation system. A few of Fredericksburg’s oldest restaurants, like the Battlefield Restaurant across from the Park Service Visitor Center and the Rec Center on William St., went completely smoke free (a recent walk past the Rec Center found a cluster of smokers right in front of the entrance, huddled over the standing ashtray). I was so excited about returning to the main room at Sammy T’s, but the staff there was adamant that the restaurant was going to keep its arrangement of smoking in the big front room, no smoking in the little separate back room. I kept calling to see if they had changed their minds, but kept getting the same answer. So I was surprised and delighted that in mid-December, I finally saw this sign:

Better late than never.

(UPDATE: After seeing Emily's comment that as of late Dec. the arrangement at Sammy T's hadn't actually changed, I just called and was told that the management changed their minds, and the front room will continue to be the smoking room. I'm so disappointed. Not that they will care, but there are plenty of other non-smoking dining rooms in Fredericksburg to enjoy, so I won't be going back.)

The other noteworthy December news in town was the big snow. So many photos have been posted of the foot-plus accumulation that I don’t need to add much to the mix. I’ll just leave you with this photo from my front yard, where the snow reached 14 inches, a record December snowfall for this area.

Tonight, I'll kick up my heels at a New Year's Eve party and think about the freezing First Nighters downtown as we all wish 2009 a fond farewell. I'm looking forward to 2010...hope it's a good year for all of us.


Emily Battle said...

I was interested to see the sign from Sammy Ts...I, too, was hoping to be able to dine in the main room. But we went on the Saturday of the big snow storm (after the 14th) and the original arrangement was still in place. Still, it's good to know the intention is there, and maybe that day was just an aberration because of the snow. I'll check back. Happy New Year.

Merry N said...

Emily, thanks for the info. I just called, and was told management "changed their minds." I really feel that this isn't in keeping with the spirit of the new smoking law. Thumbs down to Sammy T's!

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