FRANKFORT – With less than two weeks to go before Christmas, the window to buy gifts and take part in seasonal activities is quickly drawing to a close.
The good news is that, if you’re still unsure of what to get or what to do, there is still time to bring everything together and to do it in a way that highlights Kentucky’s unique nature.
Many of our local stores offer items made here or close by, including those that fall under the highly successful “Kentucky Proud” program, which has more than 2,500 producers. There are also gift shops at our state resort parks and museums. While it is a bit of a drive from here, the Kentucky Artisan Center in Berea has items for sale made by hundreds of artists.
Once you’re done with gift-buying, there are numerous family friendly events from which to choose. The Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet’s website (kentuckytourism.com) provides a fairly comprehensive listing that gives you a considerable amount of information.
Several event are unlike anything found elsewhere. The Kentucky Horse Park near Lexington, for example, loops vehicles through four miles of Christmas displays surrounded by world-class horses, while the Louisville Mega Cavern has what it says is the world’s only underground Christmas-light display that you can actually drive through. It’s a 30-minute tour featuring three million points of light.
The Newport Aquarium has a distinctive show as well, with its Water Waterland and a Scuba Santa. This has been a Northern Kentucky tradition for about 15 years.
My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown offers a Victorian take on Christmas, while Fort Boonesborough goes back a little further in time by showing visitors how some of Kentucky’s earliest citizens celebrated the holidays.
Many may be surprised to know that, during our early history, Christmas was not always celebrated on December 25th in some regions of the Commonwealth, but on January 6th instead. This commemorated the religious feast of the Magi, the wise men who had traveled to Bethlehem. Eventually, this became known as Old Christmas to many Kentuckians.
In those first years of statehood, Christmas was festive in more ways than one. With many receiving guns and ammunition as gifts, the day was often the busiest of the year for hunting.
Kentucky has other close ties to the holiday season. On a Christmas morning a little more than two centuries ago, Ephraim McDowell became the father of abdominal surgery when he removed a more-than-22-pound ovarian tumor from a woman whom doctors had first thought was pregnant. Anesthesia did not exist then, so she sang hymns to block out the pain while he operated, and she went on to live for more than 30 years.
Several years ago, a group of students in Lexington landed in the Guinness Book of World Records when they set a record for the largest game of Secret Santa. Nearly 1,500 people took part.
A week after Christmas, of course, the world will ring in a new year, and there is plenty to do that night as well. In fact, a dozen of our resort parks are planning events, and more information on them can be seen on the state parks’ webpage (parks.ky.gov).
The day after the New Year arrives, the General Assembly will return to the Capitol to kick off the 2018 Regular Session. As always, it will be a busy time, and the chief focus will be passing a two-year budget to run state government. Dozens of other issues will be considered as well.
I will of course keep you informed on what occurs, and I encourage you to let me know your views as well. You can reach me by writing to Room 432F, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort KY 40601; or you can email me at Rick.Rand@lrc.ky.gov.
To leave a message for me or for any legislator, call toll-free at 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.
I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.