Just outside Detroit, all is calm at Greenfield Village's Holiday Nights event, held each weekend throughout the holiday season.
Greenfield Village's Holiday Nights
Greenfield Village's Holiday Nights

I am on a quest for chestnuts. Roasted ones. I want a tour in a Model T. I'd really like to snag a spot watching the glassblowers, but I'll settle for the tinsmith. And no matter what Dad says, we're posing for a free photo in front of that red caboose. I've read about Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village-Henry Ford's sprawling historical Valhalla in Dearborn, Michigan-since I began my Midwest Living career 11 years ago, and darned if I'm going to miss a single Currier and Ives moment.

Greenfield Village's Holiday Nights
Photo by EE Berger

But it's so cold. Priorities shift, as they must when toes go numb. We skip lines and press deeper into the village, ducking into buildings a billionaire collected and moved here for display, like baseball cards or fine wine. Noah Webster's home. The Wright brothers' shop. We nudge the door of the Logan County Courthouse, where Abraham Lincoln practiced law. In the flickering half-light of candles, a few families sit on benches listening as a musician plucks folk songs on a mandolin. The jingle-jangle world outside fades. It's easy to imagine a different bearded man pacing these same floors on a different winter night. The melody is sweet, timeless and singularly moving.

Musician at the Logan County Courthouse
Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

When we leave, the chestnut stand has closed. I feel a little crestfallen. Then snow starts falling-big, fat flakes. In a place and a season thick with orchestrated charm, this is real Christmas magic, the kind that hides, humble and pure, in the quiet spaces between (thehenryford.org).