Three years ago, before coming to live in Indy, I had only been here on a connecting flight. In the airport, a proud Hoosier told me Indy was the place to visit for the holiday season. She specifically mentioned Monument Circle and how Christmas lights made it look like a gigantic Christmas tree. Since I got here, I couldn’t wait til Christmas so I could see what she was talking about... which is why I’m spending my Christmas right here (!!) and my family is joining me. I’ve already gotten started on my Holiday sightseeing.

One of the first places I decided to see was the Lily House at Oldsfield Estate. I have the treat of walking through IMA Museum’s 100 Acres to and from work so I pass Lily House every day. I was glad to attend Lily House’s annual Christmas Decoration tour. Beautiful and educational, I saw the shiniest most regal decorations and allowed myself to take in the Oldsfield Estate’s majestic surroundings as I read about the family history and generations of work that went into building their empire.

My family’s holiday tradition is seeing the Nutcracker Ballet. A ballerina from the age of 2 to 23, I had not only been in the Nutcracker, but had gone with my mom from before I could remember to see it every year. In our house, it feels like Christmas hasn’t happened until we see the ballet. On a flight home for Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Judith Peters, a former professional ballerina and school administrator at the Indianapolis School of Ballet (ISB). Imagine how excited I was when she told me ISB was performing its Nutcracker at the Scottish Rite Cathedral! I finally had our Christmas tradition scheduled before I even landed in Baltimore and I can’t wait for my Mom and I can enjoy the sugar plum fairy music in our favorite Ballet.

Knowing that my mom is coming to visit means I had to get started pretty early on her Christmas gift. Earlier this month, I went to a fundraiser at The Village Experience, a fair trade store in Broad Ripple. I was not only blown away by the store’s collection, but also the music. As a Nigerian-American, I’m still impressed. There was nothing that wasn’t played in their store that I don’t have in my ipod be it “azonto“ - or African house music - courtesy of a local DJ Kyle Long who doesn’t look African by a stretch. I was dancing in the store as I shopped for my mom’s gift. I won’t say what I bought (because I know you’re reading) but I will say that it is very chic and unique.

My first Christmas in Indy is putting the widest smile on my face. I can’t wait to share these mind blowing experiences when my mom visits. Hopefully, we’ll see you all around when I do. If we don’t, then from my heart to yours, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Zainab Awelenje