The 12 Joys of Christmas

Mr. and Mrs. Claus and Elves at the Chautauqua Mall

Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut

Christmas Research Failed!
Christmas Shopping Researchers in the Greater Jamestown Region – and throughout all of Chautauqua County – have failed to find a single merchant selling a genuine Partridge in a Pear Tree. That, however, may be a good thing.

In the nearly 240 years since the 12 Days of Christmas song was written, the price tag for all those stocking stuffers has risen, if they could be found, to more than $35,000, and that assumes Santa could get all those Partridges, Milking Maids and Leaping Lords down a chimney.

All is Not Lost
Fortunately, the Greater Jamestown Region this year is a wonderful place to enjoy our sampling of “The 12 Joys of Christmas,” gathered here, and many more. By the date this issue hits the newsstands, Jamestown Gazette readers will have only seven days left to enjoy them all before Christmas. Readers are advised to enjoy them all!

1. An Honored Tradition
Among the most time-honored traditions of Christmas are Christmas Eve services celebrated in churches throughout the region. Nearly every church in every neighborhood opens its doors and invites the public to join in their celebration of the Nativity. See pages 14-15 to sample a few. Two variations are typical.

A traditional Candlelight service typically includes scripture readings accompanied by a narrative of the Christmas message, hymns and Christmas Carols. The service offers joy, optimism and the happy gathering of friends and family that binds all in a community of faith and hope. The service typically ends with a joyful yet solemn procession of the congregation carrying lighting candles, sometimes accompanied by music and song.

A Blue Christmas is a relatively new tradition, first appearing in the 1980s and 90s, that acknowledges some people for whom the season is one of mourning and the sadness of loss and loneliness. It is sometimes called the “Longest Night,” taking place on December 21, the longest night of the year. Common motifs include candles, music in more somber tones, periods of silence, possibly private sharing of specific griefs, sadnesses and fears.

But when darkness feels most like it will never lift, for many it seems good to gather together for an hour or so around the light.

2. Dashing Through the Snow
Nothing says Family Christmas like a “One horse open sleigh ride” or a hay wagon full of Christmas fun. Visit the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau to learn about “Sleigh Rides and Jingle Bells.” See, for example, The Stateline Draft Horse Club’s sleigh rides in the snow. Or visit Chautauqua Institution’s Facebook page to find a date for a sleigh ride around the Institution’s most picturesque sites every Friday and Saturday through February 28, 2018.

For those who enjoy more horses (under the hood), the New York Snow Mobile Association offers information on five outstanding snowmobile clubs in Chautauqua County. See below for a listing.

3. Hunters Select New Game
Though Christmas celebrates a joyful time of deep meanings and spiritual reflection, the season often begins with hunting, but of a different kind.

Local hunters can still switch to simpler game this year, if they have not already: game that merely sits still and waits for the hunter’s axe. Bagging a live tree for Christmas has been a popular sport since Martin Luther is said to have started the tradition nearly 500 years ago.

“Western New York Christmas Tree Farms 2017” is a non-commercial website that lists no less than two-dozen WNY farms, woodlots and tree nurseries offering specially grown and groomed trees for cutting. And, as is popular with most serious hunters, many of these tree farms will allow next year’s game to be scouted this year by personally tagging a specific tree for next year’s harvest. Visit to learn more.

4. Santa Comes to Town
Santa Claus is a busy man who certainly gets around. One of his favorite places is the Chautauqua Mall in Jamestown, though children may meet him many other places as well. This year Santa not only promises to hear youngsters’ wish lists when they join him on his enormous, plush red easy chair at the center of the Mall, but by visiting him, children offer a special gift for Jamestown’s YMCA. About 15 to 20 community volunteers serving as elves and Santa’s helpers financially support the Y’s youth scholarship and other programs by purchasing pictures with Santa.

5. Music
Music is everywhere at Christmas time. Be sure to hear the Jamestown High School Orchestra’s Annual Holiday Show on Thursday evening, December 21 at 6:30 p.m. through 7:30 p.m. in the Chautauqua Mall.

157 Newton Ave
Christmas lights display.

6. Music and Lights
At Christmastime, like just about everywhere in the Western World, cities and neighborhoods shine so brightly with festive lights that even astronauts on the International Space Station can enjoy the show. Jamestown would be hard to miss. An entire evening watching that same show down here on Earth, cruising the streets of Jamestown in the Christmas season, can be even more entertaining. That is especially true of the houses that animate their lights to Christmas music that drivers can enjoy on their car radios as they drive by.

The elegant, decade-long Christmas lights display at the home of the recently passed Richard and Bonnie Manuelle, 157 Newton Ave., will offer a special treat this year for everyone who visits the neighborhood. Tuning to 107.5 FM will offer a synchronized light show carefully choreographed to the home’s gracefully dancing lights. This year the show is staged by the Manuelle children, Matt and Dawn, in honor of their late parents. Sadly for all Jamestown residents, and especially their neighborhood, this Christmas season will be the final Manuelle home music and light show. Don’t miss the last chance to see it.

7. Christmas with the Critters
Traditional Christmas manger scenes would seem incomplete without the animals, so why not make it a Christmas treat to see some of the real ones on Wednesday, December 27, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.

According to Jamestown’s Audubon Community Nature Center, “…animals enjoy the holidays too, though they need your help to open their gifts. Join ACNC for a live animal program to meet some of the critters, learn more about them, and help open their gifts from the Giving Tree.

There will be an activity after the live animal program to create a gift for the wild animals at ACNC or for you to take home to your own resident wildlife. No registration required, walk-ins welcome. Visit for times and admission or to learn about “gift in lieu of admission.”

8. Santa Express
Santa Xpress Homes for the Holidays! This year the Christmas Joy of Giving comes from The Chautauqua County Humane Society in partnership with the Media One Group and Southern Tier Xpress Hockey. For the rest of this week, through Friday, December 23, the Humane Society offers Christmas shoppers an opportunity to help make sure 100 animals make it to their new forever homes for the holidays. Pet adoption can bring joy into every household.

9. Keeping Warm
Receive joy by giving joy with a random act of kindness. The joy of the Christmas season is about kindness and caring in many ways, and Jamestown’s Keeping Each Other Warm movement has been an ongoing example of that spirit since 2014. Look for the clotheslines around town with gloves and scarves and coats and hats hung there for the taking by anyone who needs them. Their Facebook page says, “Join our ongoing community-wide initiative to help our neighbors stay warm during the bitterly cold winter months by giving away cold-weather wear FREE!”

10. Hot Chocolate and Good Memories
How about a hot chocolate on a snowy day? A number of local merchants will be opening their doors to offer a cup of cozy warmth to busy shoppers who want to unwind just a bit from the holiday rush. And don’t forget that Santa may have missed a few cookies on his busy rounds. Hot Chocolate and cookies can help make the best of Christmastime memories for the little sledders and sliders in any neighborhood. It’s always a Christmas joy to make it feel like Christmas for someone special.

Chautauqua County Snowmobilers
Chautauqua Lake Snowmobile Club Inc.
Cherry Creek Sno-Goers Inc.
Ellery Sno Cruisers
Lake Effect Trail Breakers
Sunset Drifters Snowmobile Club, Inc.

11. Shop Locally
The best Christmas Gift local citizens can give our communities is to shop locally and shop in person. Small businesses, family owned businesses and main street shops in every town deserve everyone’s support. Money spent locally tends to stay locally whereas money spent online is usually gone forever. Although most of the “Big Box” stores make it a priority to support some local causes, it does not match the benefit of shopping at local businesses. Christmas shopping at its best is more than commerce, it can be the strength of a community where neighbors know and support their neighbors.

12. Paint the Night for Christmas
Paint Nights are becoming ever more popular in restaurants and taverns across the country, and local neighborhoods are definitely on-board.

Because Santa knows who’s been Naughty & Nice and because a little Christmas Cheer enhances creativity, check Facebook and the Internet for local restaurants and taverns throughout the county offering a Naughty & Nice, one-of-a-kind Wine Glass painting night, providing celebrators with everything they need to create a painting on matching wine glasses.

Keep Sharing
The Jamestown Gazette is sure that everyone who reads our simple list of 12 Joys of Christmas probably knows of many more. So we wish each and every reader countless more joys of the season and especially the joy of sharing those with others, friends and loved ones, neighbors and communities. Merry Christmas to all!

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.