Holiday Magic At The Biltmore

Guest blogger CY Cooper

Happy Holidays, one and all.  My family and friends know that yours truly is a history enthusiast.  So, in the spirit of the season I began my celebrating the holidays by traveling to Asheville, North Carolina the first week of December and visiting the magnificent Biltmore Estate.  It’s simply known as the Biltmore or as I like to call it, America’s Downton Abbey. No matter what time of year you go to see this incredible structure, it is breathtaking BUT during Christmas it’s even more amazing.  


Biltmore was the family home of George Vanderbilt, his wife Edith and their daughter Cornelia.  The house, over 175,000 square feet and 250 plus rooms, was under construction for over five (5) years.  On Christmas Eve in 1895, George Vanderbilt officially opened the doors of the grand house to family and friends.  At the time it was constructed Biltmore had all the latest conveniences for a home in the late 1800’s.  

During my visit, I stayed at one of the two hotels located on the grounds of the estate.  The Village Hotel and the The Inn are not far from the main house.  When you stay at either one of the hotels there’s a shuttle that takes you back and forth from the house, to the winery, gardens, conservatory, equestrian center, shopping areas and restaurants.  In fact, you don’t have to leave the estate grounds unless you want to explore Asheville.  There are several tours available pertaining to the estate, including a guided house tour, roof top tour, a tour of what went on through the eyes of the servants’ garden tours and my favorite, legacy of the land tour.  Biltmore is not just a large home with beautiful gardens, it’s a brief but fun and fascinating glimpse into the past of America.  


Thousands of people visit the estate during the holidays to view this spectacular home with its beautiful decorations during the day and also in the evenings where the house is illuminated by candlelight.  There is so much to talk about regarding my visit that I can’t put it all in one post.  Look for upcoming posts regarding reviews of the restaurants on the estate as well as a recap of The Downton Abbey Exhibition currently running at the Biltmore.

My stay at the Biltmore was wonderful, but there is no place like home for the holidays. Have a wonderful holiday season, and remember “thisisyourbestyear”. Merry Christmas!

Who Bought the Christmas Gifts?

It was the night before Christmas; in fact it was about 6:45 PM to be exact. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse because everyone was out trying to get a “deal” on Christmas presents at the mall. The stockings were not hung on the chimney; they were still in the box because everyone thought the other one would hang them and besides everyone already knew who bought their gifts.

Christmas stockings in a box

The children were up playing last year’s hot video games while visions of the new games danced in their heads. They’re not babies any more, and they probably already knew who bought their gifts.

Children playing with video game 3

Mama was gone and you guessed it—Daddy was asleep on the sofa with visions of Christmas dinner dancing in his head.  I’m almost sure they both already knew who bought the gifts.

Dad asleep on couch with tv remote

When out on the lawn there was a lot of noise, it was the sound of music coming from the neighbor’s sons’ car. I don’t think he was playing anything to do with Christmas. He loves to play his music loud, but probably knows who bought the gifts.

Tot driving

I didn’t go to the window since I knew who it was; I just started to hang the stockings because it’s what you do for Christmas. I plugged in the lights on the tree and smiled to myself. There weren’t many ornaments because it seems the family just didn’t have time to finish the tree.

Christmas Stockings

As I started to decorate, my phone rang and of course I had to answer it. A half hour later, I decided I needed to do something at the computer so the tree would just have to wait. Besides, I already knew who bought the gifts.

Little girl talking on the phone

Daddy is snoring even louder than usual and Mama has been gone for hours. The younger kids have started to get hungry, and they’ve started to bug me for food. I bundle them up and put them in my car and off we go in search of food. As we go, we look at the houses all bright with decorations for miles and miles. They ask me why we didn’t decorate for Christmas this year, and I try to explain how hard it is for the family to get together and besides we probably already know who bought the gifts. The golden arches are lit up as bright as a Christmas tree as we go through the drive thru for our usual. On the way home I hear them whispering about the reasons we should have decorated our house. They begin to tell me how sad they feel because it doesn’t seem like Christmas, and I have to agree. I take solace in the fact that we all know who bought the gifts.

Christmas house decorations

As we pull into the driveway Mama has arrived and Daddy is finally awake. It’s then I decide that we need to finally finish our tree. As I start to hang more ornaments, the younger ones appear, then Mama comes in and finally Daddy joins us. We put on a little Christmas music and do our best to keep a tune. We talk, we laugh, we sing—we are together. Our big overstuffed Santa in all his finery is put out beside the tree.

Family decorating Christmas tree

As we stand back to see the labors of our work, the younger ones are still rambling though the ornament box. They tell us we have forgotten something. As they gently pick up the last ornament and place it on the tree, they smile and tell us they know who bought the gifts. As we all brace for the answer that we know will come, they put on the last ornament. They smile at us and say, “the baby Jesus bought the gifts and Santa Claus just helps Him give them out.”.

 Merry Christmas and remember “thisisyourbestyear” because “He” bought the gifts.

True meaning of Christmas