Christmas and Thanksgiving are approaching, and family will soon be driving or flying in to visit.
If they are like most families, they have a short list of goals: ensuring you are still gainfully employed, checking out your lifestyle/cleanliness and finding out who your significant other actually is.
At least, that is what my family wants to know. On visits when they stay longer than a day, it is important I have a holiday-themed plan for full-day entertainment, preferably low cost.
The Billy Graham Library seems to be my answer this year.
Reasons to visit
(1) You need some Charlotte history.
Billy Graham was born on a dairy farm back when Charlotte was farmland (1918). Charlotte was where he grew up before going to college. The house he lived in age 9 until college has been moved to the library grounds. Inside, you will see the home restored to its former glory. One cool artifact I noticed was a pencil from Belk. Graham used it when he worked at the Charlotte-based department store.
When I toured the library, I learned about Charlotte history. Graham became a Christian while living in Charlotte and moved the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Headquarters within walking distance of the library a few years ago. They are responsible for the BGEA Rapid Response Team who helps in times of natural disaster.
(2) You need to eat.
My family cannot go anywhere without being fed. We are eaters. We like to eat good food, and a lot of it. Fortunately for us, the library offers an in-house eatery, The Graham Brothers Dairy Bar, playing off Graham’s history of milking cows on the family farm. The restaurant offers hot dogs, ice cream, sandwiches and salads. After touring the Library, you can get a snack or full-out meal — I highly recommend the Mother Graham’s chicken salad.
(3) You need some holiday spirit.
Aside from food, the whole library experience is free. Parking is included. Where else in this metropolis does that happen? Beginning December 1, the only other cost is a carriage ride — if you want to ride.
- Dec. 1 is the start of family-friendly activities held until Dec. 23.
- A live nativity will be on the grounds from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- If you want to pet the animals, get there from noon to 2 p.m.
- Christmas carolers perform every night December 1 to December 23.
- A story time of Christmas books is held on the heated patio Monday through Thursday 5 p.m to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturdays 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
(4) You need good cheer.
I went to the Billy Graham Library on his 97th birthday and was treated to a huge piece of cake, for free. When I drove on the grounds, the guy who told me where to park was spirited and excited I arrived, telling me he was so thankful I came to visit. Everywhere I turned, the library staff and volunteers were telling me they loved seeing me and were thankful I chose to spend my afternoon there.
The library is much more than a museum of artifacts and relics from a minister who changed lives. There are evangelical elements, like interactive displays, artifacts and short movie clips. At this time of year, the library is dedicated to creating a great holiday experience for its visitors.