As lovely as it sounds to wake up earlier than a special ops squad and be pressed to the glass doors of a big retailer, only to be hip-checked by some aggressive shopper, there are alternatives to Black Friday madness.
You could stay home and relax with a hot cup of coffee and a cold slice of leftover pumpkin pie. But if you really need to get that holiday shopping going, maybe try someplace a little mellower than a parking lot full of bargain hunters pawing the ground before the stampede. How about going handmade? The Folks Craft Fair is on at the Ferndale Veterans Memorial building on Friday at 10 a.m. (free), and Saturday brings the Holiday Indie Craft Show benefiting the Trinidad Library at Trinidad Hall at 10:30 a.m. ($2) and the Mad River Grange hosts the Christmas Art and Craft Fair from 11 a.m. (free).
Or you can take Small Business Saturday to the next level. Get your Arcata Plaza Passport stamped (pick one up in a shop on the plaza) and you'll have a chance to win an iPad Mini or one of six prize baskets with all kinds of local swag. Shop at one of Fortuna's 75 participating businesses for free passes to The Smurfs and Arthur's Christmas, showing on Dec. 7 and Dec. 21 at the Fortuna Theater. Oh, and the movies are chaperoned, so you can drop the kids off and get them later. See? Shopping doesn't have to hurt.
Are you done with your turkey? Good, because Saaaannntaaaaa!
A big guy in a red suit isn't that hard to find, but you do need to know where to look. Santa starts making the rounds in Humboldt this week, so charge your camera, knock back a mug of hot chocolate and go see a man about a rocking horse.
Early birds can visit St. Nick with fellow suspender enthusiasts when he kicks off the toy drive at the Bayshore Mall with an entourage of firefighters on Friday Nov. 29 at 10 a.m. Bring a donation for a needy child and keep yourself in the Nice column. Can't face the mall on the busiest day of the year? Santa feels you. Catch him later at the gazebo in Old Town from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. the same day.
And don't worry if you can't make it this week, because Santa is all over the place this season (check the Holiday Heads Up for his other scheduled stops). Seriously — you'd better not pout.
You know, there are other ways to celebrate Thanksgiving besides watching football and shotgunning gravy.
If you're vegetarian, vegan or vegetari-ish, whip up your best animal-product-free side dish and trot it over to the Humboldt Vegetarian Society's Thanksgiving potluck at the Humboldt Area Foundation on Sunday Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. (free). It's sure to give you some new ideas for your holiday table (you're better than that old nut loaf recipe — branch out). Take along your own service, too and spare the landfill the extra paper plates.
On Thanksgiving morning, get out of the house and breathe some fresh sea air at Trinidad Head during the blessing of the fleet (10 a.m., free). The local fishing boat crews will be in attendance to give thanks to the ocean and get some good seafood mojo going. It's tradition, and it beats fighting with Aunt Carol over mashing or slicing the canned cranberry sauce.
Thanksgiving is like the Olympics of eating, except it's every year, and it's not about competition so much as family and indulgence, and most Olympiads probably don't collapse on the couch holding their stuffing baby when it's all over. If you're planning some epic power eating, you might want to do something a little more physical to make room. How about a lap around the Arcata Marsh? Meet at the Wildlife Interpretive Center at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving with your walking shoes on and get moving (free). Or be at the Old Town gazebo for the 5K Turkey Trot at 9 a.m. ($10 or $20 with a shirt, registration from 7:30 a.m.).
No feast to go to? Not true! You are a welcome guest at the Logger Bar's potluck at noon and at Arcata Community Center, where local chef Luke Patterson is dishing it out for free from noon until 3 p.m. And you can always call and arrange to give a hand at St. Vincent De Paul (445-9588) and the Rescue Mission (445-3787), where the staff and volunteers serve those in need year round.
The Humboldt Bay Mycological Society puts the fun in fungi. Its annual mushroom fair is on Sunday Nov. 24 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Redwood Acres Fairgrounds, where hundreds of species from the truffle-y to the trippy will be on display ($2, $1 children 10-16, free for kids under 10).
Foraging for wild produce is all the rage, but if everything you know about mushrooms is what you learned from Alice in Wonderland, a little expert guidance might be in order. Local spore czars will be on hand to teach you and the kids about toxicity, hunting, cooking and even growing your own mushrooms. In fact, before you sauté that little spotted thing you found in the yard, bring it in to be ID'd by one of the society's shroom Sherpas.
Yes, you Googled it, but do you want to put your life in the hands of the same Internet that keeps asking you to send money to Nigerian ex-generals?
Besides, a visit to the emergency room won't get you a cool mushroom T-shirt.
The last time I saw the A Reason To Listen Poetry Collective, poet Therese FitzMaurice was cooing about the dying of the sun, her hand on her big pregnant belly. The same voice mesmerizes during a rehearsal of "Wind," a piece in the collective's new show, Spoken Synergy: A Collaboration of Spoken Word, Music and Movement, on Saturday Nov. 23 at 7p.m. at Jambalaya ($10 sliding scale at the door). In "Wind," the words spoken by FitzMaurice and poet Laurie Birdsall mingle with Mary Thorton's flute and Ginny Ryde's English horn. Dancer Lacey Pipher enters like a visitor, both lulled and sent skittering. "The wind/ Rustled and turned/ Kissed the nape of my neck and replied," FitzMaurice whispers into the mic, "Here my darling."
The series of performance pieces combining spoken word, live instrumental music, singing and movement are all collaborative. The different elements actually make the poetry strikingly accessible to more than just the poetry savvy. Co-host Niko Sol, who contributed a 10-minute, three-act comedy play in which Jane sings a cappella to Tarzan, explains why there are no solos in the show. "We wanted to incorporate breaking boundaries as a group," he says, "... to pull in more of a community feeling." In the choral piece, "Structure of Learning," lines of poetry are spoken in harmony while on either side of the stage, dancers Melanie Quillen and Hanakekua Joao stand sentry, using their magenta hoops to create currents of shape and movement, creating a tableau of sound and emotion. Spoken word artists David Holper and Jerimiah Anderson, musicians Tommy FitzMaurice, Tim Lane and Lee Ryder and hoop dancer Joelle Jorissen complete the cast. The evening's music runs the gamut from English Horn to beat-boxed melodies. Join the cast on the dance floor with local band Likwefi and continue the party into the night with live art by Matt Beard. This isn't your junior year falling asleep in the back of English lit class while your teacher drones on about dead poets. If you already love poetry, you will be captivated. If you're not sure yet, take a chance — you'll be captivated, too.