Happy Holidays! This is one of my favorite times of the year, aside from the chilly weather. Not for the shopping, presents, or even the festive decorations, but because I get to spend time with family. And, most exciting of all, I get to spend whole days in the kitchen cooking for others. I don’t know if there’s much I enjoy more than finding or creating a new recipe, and then sharing my dishes with anyone with a spare spoon or fork (one of my favorite family recipes is on our website this month). December is the month of giving to friends and family—and to the less fortunate. My giving has always been with food. Growing up, my family made full Christmas dinners and delivered them to families that needed a little help. And I’m sure my parents got pretty tired of me dirtying an entire kitchen just to make some new recipes for our friends. Everyone gives in his or her own way, and we highlighted that in our issue this month. Writer Jenn Baxter profiled five local charities that give to the communities all year long; not only when it’s fashionable to do so. Learn about the Mooresville Christian Mission, Solace for the Children, Serenity House, My Breast Friend, and the Ada Jenkins Center, and what each of them do to help families and individuals around the lake (page 46).For those still left on your holiday shopping list, gift expert Simone McDowell has compiled our exclusive gift guide, featuring items for him, her, and the kids (page 41). To really get in the winter spirit, take a journey down to York County for fun activities like apple picking and live music (page 52).Looking for one last getaway before the year ends? Take a short drive to Asheville and stay in one of the many cozy bed and breakfasts. But be warned—these are not the doily-covered B&Bs you remember. The new age of inns includes meals with locally sourced ingredients, custom maps for jogging and hiking, and even cocktail hours (page 70). Whatever your plans are for soaking in the season, enjoy the last month of the year, and don’t forget to go out with a bang!