It’s an old, old question—what is the “meaning” of this time of year, this holiday season? Peace? Joy? Commerce? Excess? Friends, I submit it is all these and more.

Townes Van Zandt once sang, “We all got holes to fill, and them holes are all that’s real.” Grammar notwithstanding, Zandt’s plaintive croon reminds us from whence this desire for “meaning” comes—it is that which compels us to find something to fill those holes. We fill them with religious ceremonies that give us comfort; time with friends or family that make us feel warm with love; food and drink to sate our appetites; shopping for that little zing of acquisition; and on and on.

All this is good, necessary, and, yes, meaningful to each of us in our own way. So if you, like me, find yourself wanting for some preconceived notion of what’s “supposed” to happen at this time of year, take a moment to remind yourself that what is “supposed” to happen is precisely what is happening, now, at this very moment!

If this is coming off a bit esoteric, follow my steps below to create a sweet, tangy, boozy holiday treat, then return to the start of this post and contemplate again. Oh, and read all the way through, too, for this weekend’s holiday happenings!

Cran You Dig It?!
I love cranberries and this is the time of year to really overload on those tart lil suckers, as bags of fresh berries are widely available at all our area grocery stores. The best part about this incredibly simple recipe is that it leaves you with loads of cranberry simple syrup after the work is done, which can be saved and used in a variety of delicious cocktails. It’s a two-for-one! Here’s what to do:

You’ll need:
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup super-fine sugar
(This recipe is easily doubled and I would recommend you do so—little bags of these gems make great stocking stuffers or host gifts!)

Simply combine the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan and bring over low heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Once dissolved, bring to a simmer, remove from the heat and stir in the fresh cranberries. Pour the berries and sugar water into a bowl and allow to sit either 8 hours or overnight in the fridge.

Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue/Flickr

Then, drain the cranberries (don’t forget to reserve that syrup!!!), place the super-fine sugar in a shallow dish or baking tray, then add the cranberries, rolling them around to coat with sugar.

Let ’em sit for about an hour and, voila! A crunchy, tart, sweet treat that is perfect for snacking!

While you’re at it, put a tablespoon or two of that cranberry steeping liquid at the bottom of a champagne glass, top it off with bubbly and maybe even drop a couple of your freshly sugared cranberries in the glass for interest.

You’ve got snacks! You’ve got booze! Now let’s talk what you’ll be up to this weekend in Loudoun!

Friday, Dec. 15

LBPAC Presents ‘The Nutcracker’
7 p.m.
Loudoun Valley High School, 340 N. Maple Ave., Purcellville
The Loudoun Ballet Performing Arts Company, under the artistic direction of Loudoun Ballet Company alumna Maureen Miller, puts a new spin on a classic featuring talented pre-professional dancers and seasoned pros.
Details: lbpac.org

Saturday, Dec. 16

Jingle Bell Rock & Run
9 a.m.-noon
One Loudoun 20626 Easthampton Plaza, Ashburn
The new holiday race from Ringing in Hope features a 10K, 5K and 1K fun run. The race benefits Women Giving Back, which helps women and children in crisis. The race is followed by food and celebrations. Registration is $45 for the 10K, $35 for the 5K and $15 for the 1K for participants 3 and older.
Details: ringinginhope.com

Santa Lands!
10 a.m.
Virginia Village Shopping Center, 11 Fairfax St. SE, Leesburg
Virginia’s Village’s 21st Century Santa arrives in a helicopter at 10 a.m. sharp. After that, families can visit the center’s Santa House for a visit with the man himself and make gifts for loved ones while enjoying holiday music, food trucks and other activities. Gift donations of books, toys and sports equipment to benefit the YMCA of Loudoun County will also be accepted.
Details: vavillageleesburg.com

Holiday Centerpiece Class
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Fa La La Christmas Pop Up Bar, 14 Loudoun St. SE, Leesburg
Make a fresh holiday centerpiece with gorgeous materials and design help from Petals and Hedges. Tickets are $60 in advance.
Details: facebook.com/falalaleesburg

LBC Presents ‘The Nutcracker’
1:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Broad Run High School, 21670 Ashburn Road, Ashburn
Loudoun Ballet Company’s 28th “Nutcracker” features top pre-professional dancers from the company’s ranks, along with professional star power. Longtime fans can expect beloved costumes and choreography with some fresh twists. Premium tickets are $27 in advance. General tickets are $15 for children 12 and under and seniors and $22 for adults. All tickets are $30 at the door.
Details: loudounballet.org

Ballet Theatre of Ashburn Presents ‘The Nutcracker’
1:30 and 6:30 p.m.
Dominion High School, 21326 Augusta Drive, Sterling
With imported professional talent from Utah’s Ballet West, BTA presents its most ambitious “Nutcracker” yet. Advance tickets are $13 for youth ages 3 to 18, $18 for adults. Tickets are $15 for youth and $20 for adults at the door.
Details: ashburnballet.com

‘Holiday Hooligans’
2 p.m.
StageCoach Theatre Company, 20937 Ashburn Road, Ashburn
StageCoach Theatre Company presents an original holiday play designed for young audiences. In this charming tale, fairy tale villains, including The Big Bad Wolf, Wicked Witch, Troll, Genie and Golem get together to celebrate Christmas and find a way into Santa’s heart. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for children. Advance purchase is recommended—performances are also scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19, Wednesday, Dec. 21 and Thursday, Dec. 22.
Details: stagecoachtc.com

LBPAC Presents ‘The Nutcracker’
2:30 and 6:30 p.m.
Loudoun Valley High School, 340 N. Maple Ave., Purcellville
Details: lbpac.org
(See Friday listing)

MSVA: ‘A Visit from Saint Nicholas’

Lis B/Flickr


4 p.m.
Saint James Episcopal Church, 14 Cornwall St. NW, Leesburg
The program features one of the most beloved Christmas poems of all time, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” as well as modern holiday choral arrangements including Erik Jones’ “Betelehemu/Sing Noel” and “Santa Claus is Back in Town.” Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $15 for students 6 to 17. Packages are available for groups of four or more.
Details: msva.org/christmas

American Legion Post 293 Toys for Tots Drive and Dinner
5-7 p.m.
American Legion Post 293, 112 N. 21st St., Purcellville
Bring an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots and enjoy a free dinner including turkey, ham, roast beef and tasty sides and desserts.
Contact: 540-338-0910

Christmas with the Immortals
7 p.m.
Bush Tabernacle, 250 S. Nursery Ave., Purcellville
One of Loudoun’s most popular teen bands hosts a fundraiser for its annual service project trip to Cleveland with favorite holiday tunes. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 5 to 17.
Details: facebook.com/theimmortalsoflmi

Sunday, Dec. 17

Holiday Brunch and Wine Pairing
11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Breaux Vineyards, 36888 Breaux Vineyards Lane, Purcellville
Enjoy a delicious brunch paired with carefully selected Breaux wines. Tickets are $75 per person, $65 for wine club members. Advance reservations are required.
Details: breauxvineyards.com

LBC Presents ‘The Nutcracker’
1:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Broad Run High School, 21670 Ashburn Road, Ashburn
Details: loudounballet.org
(See Saturday listing)

LBPAC Presents ‘The Nutcracker’
2 and 5:30 p.m.
Loudoun Valley High School, 340 N. Maple Ave., Purcellville
Details: lbpac.org
(See Friday listing)

‘Holiday Hooligans’
2 p.m.
StageCoach Theatre Company, 20937 Ashburn Road, Ashburn
Details: stagecoachtc.com
(See Saturday listing)

‘Naughty or Nice Christmas Cabaret’
6 p.m.
Salamander Resort, 500 N. Pendleton Street, Middleburg
Join some of the best vocalists in Northern Virginia for an NYC-style holiday cabaret. Sentimental, harmonious, funny, heartfelt and unpredictable songs will get you in the mood for this crazy time of year. $85 ticket price includes dinner and the show. Advance purchase is required.
Details: stagecoachtc.com

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