Hot cocoa
Hot cocoa

By Molly Butler

The holidays are here and there are a million ways to feel. Anxious, excited, even numb.

I’m thankful for my friends and family and health this year. I’m proud of our community, the innovative ways we have continued to make this year meaningful and bright. I’m sad we won’t get to celebrate in the ways we normally do, and I’m nostalgic for the annual candlelit singing of Silent Night, my favorite tradition. I’m hopeful for a better new year. It’s okay to feel any number of confusing emotions during the 2020 holiday season. While we can’t control how we feel, we can choose how to be.

This week had some beautiful sweet spots. Opening Christmas cards. Learning a new recipe from my cousin. Sampling a new tea. Waking up to my kitten purring on my pillow. A delicious slice of ice cream cake. My nephew saying his first word: “Grandpa.”

Have a happy, safe and sweet weekend. This weekend, and all week, let’s try to be sweet.

It’s okay to feel any number of confusing emotions during the 2020 holiday season. While we can’t control how we feel, we can choose how to be.


The North Mankato Taylor Library has been working tirelessly all 2020 to keep spreading joy and sweet ideas. Stop by from 10am to 4pm to pick up your holiday craft supplies!  Tweens and teens can get supplies to make their own Holiday Gnome, and adults will be creating Reindeer Wreaths! These take and make crafts are a perfect way to deck the halls. Registration is available online. Then head to their Facebook page for the latest Stories with Santa. New stories appear between 6-6:30pm every Friday in December!

I love when a community comes together to do something sweet! Omega Court in North Mankato will be closed to traffic from 5-10 pm so that you and your family can walk the cul-de-sac and enjoy the Christmas lights and holiday tunes. Warm up with hot chocolate and Hoppers sweet and delicious mini donuts. Rumor has it, Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be in town… Feel free to pack along non-perishable food items to be donated to local shelters, or toys to be brought to the hospital. Please park along Countryside drive to make sure there’s space for everyone to join in.


Set your alarms for some early morning sweetness! The Snowflake Shuffle 5k with River Valley Running begins at 7:30am.  Hot chocolate and warm coffee will be waiting after the run. Check their event page for updates.

Wrap up that holiday shopping. From 10am to noon swing by Drummer’s Garden Center to shop Mankato Farmers’ Market in the Greenhouse. Shop everything from baked goods, jams, veggies, crafts, and meats.

The Circle Inn will host yet another Holiday Shopping Tent Sale! From noon to 3 pm swing by for handmade goods from local makers and vendors. While you’re in the area, stop by NaKato Bar and Grill in North Mankato for their annual Great Mankato Toy Drive! Drop off toys for children and teens, or a monetary donation for CADA. They’ll have staff on the patio, so you don’t have to leave your car to make your donation.

At 7:30pm Gustavus will present 2020’s Livestreamed Christmas in Christ Chapel. As a Gustie alum, I know how much work, talent and love goes into this breathtaking production, so don’t miss it! This year’s message is Healer of the Nations, Come.

Saturday is your last chance to enter the North Mankato Taylor Library’s Virtual Gingerbread House Competition! Polish off the gumdrop door handles and frosting trim and send your submission on the event page. I’m already seeing some amazing creations, so check them out!


The Bellissimo Tree Farm Tree Hunt ends today! Make sure to check out the clues and hunt down the unclaimed prizes, all courtesy of Old Town shops.

Honor your sweet tooth! Fleet Farm on Premier Drive in Mankato will be hosting the North Star Donuts truck. Enjoy contactless and fresh-made on the spot apple cider mini donuts (much bigger than the average mini) as well as their North Star hot chocolates with jumbo marshmallows and your choice of Nutella or Caramel drizzle. If that doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth, nothing will!

Bonus: Share the Sweetness

Literally: While normal cookie-exchanges are not advised, you can still spread cheer and frosting. Drop baked goods off for friends, neighbors, even strangers.

  • Send a card: While we didn’t make official Christmas cards this year, we are sending off some notes to loved ones. Not sure who to send to? More Love Letters allows you to send a letter of encouragement to a stranger who needs it. Cards for Hospitalized Kids and Cardz for Kidz let you send a note to kids who could use it most.
  • Run an errand: A simple “I’m out and about, need anything?” text can help make life easier for busy parents or stressed teachers and healthcare workers. Reach out to those you know and love and know that these small acts make a world of difference.
  • Clean out your house: This is a gift for you and for the people who could use your unwanted things! Check your kitchen for duplicate utensils and appliances, clean out the coat closet, and dust off those still in-the-box items you never really needed. You can drop off your items at a thrift store, or even list them on Facebook Marketplace for free.
  • Volunteer! You can also use sites like Volunteer Match to find a cause dear to your heart.
  • Check out ECHO food shelf to donate online or in-person, or register to volunteer, or check Connections Ministry for ways to help out with meals and needs for local shelters. Help local animals through BENCHES where you can shop right from their needs lists or register to volunteer.
  • Forgive: Give others the benefit of the doubt this holiday season. Everyone’s quite stressed. Tempers may be short, emails may be slow, and a lot of people are feeling forgetful. Remember we’re only human, and besides, holding a grudge never helped anyone. In the words of everyone’s favorite snow princess, “Let it go.”
  • Post positives: Use social media for good! Share happy news, big or small, and make an encouraging online space.

Be gentle and sweet to yourself and others and have a beautiful week my friends!


Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.