In the rush to be first in line at the department stores to take advantage of the bargains available to open the Christmas shopping spending spree, it can be easy to lose sight of the joyous nature of the holiday.

Sipping eggnog around fireplaces gives way to the thunderous ringing of cash registers, which routinely drown out the sound of sleigh bells ringing in your ear.

Keeping this in mind, the Garfield Park Conservatory, located at 300 North Central Park Ave., is holding its fourth annual “Voices of the Season” holiday event on Dec. 4.

It will allow visitors of the Conservatory to bask in an elaborate holiday paradise encompassing decorated trees, hot cocoa, and the beautiful sounds of local youth choirs including: Bethel Youth Ensemble, Chicago Children’s’ Choir Neighborhood Choir

from the Off the Street Club and the Voices of Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist.

“We do many events every year at the Conservatory, but this is perhaps my favorite,” said Carl Grimm, Gardening Wellness & Special program developer at the Conservatory. “It is so festive and well received by all who attend. It has a sense of intimacy all its own.”

Although this is only the fourth year of the event, the Conservatory did hold an annual pre-Kwanzaa event for about 10 years annually prior to 2002. However, the Conservatory decided to incorporate the pre-Kwanzaa tribute into the ‘Voices of The Season’ event, and the change has worked perfectly.

Following the choir performances, storyteller Iya Fatola, will recite short about the importance of Kwanzaa to the community. An average of over 300 people have shown up for the event in the last few years and more are expected this year, particularly drawn in by area vendors at this year’s event.

“We incorporated vendors as well,” said Fatola, wearing dual hats as both the Marketing advisor and storyteller for the event. “Confirmed vendors will include Watkins Products, which is a 135-year old business that specialize in Vanilla and spices, home-care products, elegant gift baskets and – of course – tried and true medicines. Also attending will be the Lady Lord Essential Bath & Body Scents, which will be selling wonderful fragrances for the women and men, and Mishauwn Purnel O’Neil, one of only a few female self-publishers of children’s books. It will really be a lot to see.”

The event will begin at noon. Local artisans and vendors will present fine gift items for sale from 12 p.m. to 5. Musical performance and Kwanzaa storytelling will be presented from 3 p.m. to 5.

Editor’s note: The Austin Weekly News will feature holiday stories in and about Austin in the next four issues leading up to Christmas, Dec. 25.