Appropriately named “Thanksgiving,” this handsome turkey is a much-loved family pet according to its owner, Idyllwild School student Sable Summerfield. Photo by Cid Castillo

In most of Southern California, Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrated in shirtsleeve sunny weather. On the Hill by contrast, trees have already donned their striking fall colors, morning temperatures are in the 20’s, and the feel of approaching winter is definitely in the air. We’ve already had our first snowfall in town at the beginning of the month.

For any who are from the Midwest or East Coast, here in Idyllwild it actually feels like the Thanksgivings they might remember. It is a time when this little mountain hamlet comes to vibrant holiday life. The Christmas lights are up and the town sparkles with color. And here, “White Christmas,” is not a nostalgic and unfulfilled wish in a song, but a very real possibility any year.

And Thanksgiving weekend, with its celebrations and anticipations, ushers in an old-fashioned Currier and Ives holiday season. On Thanksgiving Day from 1 to 4 p.m. in keeping with tradition, the American Legion Post 800 offers a free Thanksgiving dinner to anyone who wants to attend. Turkey with all the trimmings is served community style with a fire in the fireplace and the warmth of neighbors and friends.

Then on Friday, Nov. 25, the 44th Annual Harvest Festival gets underway at Town Hall from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. to give Christmas shoppers an abundance of early gift choices. With 40 craft booths, the festival features unique mountain-made gifts including quilts, birdhouses, cakes, jams and jellies, holiday decorations, fabric and fine art, pottery and gourds, and hats and scarves. The festival repeats from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26.

Directly following the conclusion of the Harvest Festival, beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday is the 51st iteration of the Idyllwild Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, featuring Christmas readings and carols, the lighting of the great Christmas tree, Doug Austin and his Olde English Players, a holiday bonfire, festival booths and, of most importance to the wee ones, the arrival of Santa Claus. Café Aroma’s Frank Ferro will be this year’s festival emcee.

Local restaurants will be offering the holiday’s gastronomical pleasures of table and vine along with the warn conviviality typical of Idyllwild. Check out the holiday menus, serving times and reservation policies for local restaurants in the dining section of The Idyllwild Guide, available at the Town Crier office and throughout town. The Creek House, under new owners Lanny and Lorraine Hardy, offer a prix fixe menu with seatings at 1 and 4 p.m.

For information on other events of the Thanksgiving weekend and onward throughout the holiday season, check the Arts and Entertainment calendar in the print and online edition, as well as the new free Weekender bulletin, which you can sign up to receive here.