Wylly Stirling originally hails from Columbia, SC, where she lives now. She also spent 30 years of her life in Mobile, AL, but she and her family feel at home at Kanuga. She joyfully shares, “My friends all have mountain houses and beach houses. I have Kanuga!” Like other families that have discovered this sacred place, Wylly’s children and grandchildren have returned to Kanuga their whole lives.
Wylly remembers sitting on the porch of the original Inn, watching people play on the shuffleboard courts. She has pictures of herself with her cousins on the waterfront when they were six. She reminisces about a woman who “read the children stories in the upstairs of the old hotel. I think her name was Ms. Griffith, but we all called her Griffy.” Wylly met her lifelong friend Lucy Glenn at Kanuga when they were sixteen. She was working at Kanuga on the Dining Room staff. Her daughters, Jane and Julia, worked as counselors for Camp Bob.
Eight years ago, Wylly Stirling attended Christmas at Kanuga with her family and has wanted to return every Christmas since but could not for one reason or another. “This year I decided, I’m going to do it.”
This December 20–26, Wylly and her family will gather at Kanuga to celebrate the birth of Jesus once again. Guests for Christmas at Kanuga can stay in Guest Houses, Historic Cottages or the renovated Kanuga Lake Inn. As for Wylly, with one daughter in Asheville and the other in Columbia, Kanuga is the perfect place for everyone to be together under one roof. “I originally booked a three-bedroom Cottage, but I changed it to five-bedrooms when I found out both my daughters would join me with their families.”
Wylly’s daughter, Jane Clarke, expressed her favorite things about Christmas at Kanuga saying, “It’s always family-centered. When you are at Guest Period, you are so happy to see all your friends—the familiar faces make up an extended family.”
Wylly agrees, “It’s quiet. It’s calm. When we went back in 2008, it snowed a bit overnight on Christmas Eve, so we awoke Christmas morning to a land covered in white.” Having raised her children in Mobile, it was a rare occasion to see snow.
This Christmas, Kanuga is bringing back horse-drawn carriage rides. Guests can create a gingerbread house, hang greens in the Chapel of the Transfiguration and wrap presents which they deliver to local families in need. They will take time to visit with Santa, sing carols and be of good cheer. This year, there will also be a door-decorating contest. Wylly’s children will tackle the Stirling Trail in honor of their father, Doug.
“You arrive ready for Christmas. It allows you to put away ideas of hosting parties to just celebrate Christmas. You can relax into a real celebration, without the frivolity and stress of your hometown. You just sit back and enjoy others’ cooking. We make ornaments in arts and crafts to decorate our tree, and Kanuga provides a tree and lights for each cottage. There’s no need to dress up, no fighting over who will bring the spinach casserole. Everything is taken care of by the Kanuga staff. We’re looking forward to having fun again this year,” says Wylly.
This holiday season, let the hospitable staff at Kanuga treat you and your family to a Christmas you’ll cherish forever. We’re checking our list twice to make sure everything is prepared for a stress-free, family-friendly holiday. As Wylly Stirling says, Christmas at Kanuga is the perfect escape “if you think you’ve forgotten the true meaning of Christmas.”