`CHRISTMAS has really become a major event around here,'' says Robert Conte, resident historian at The Greenbrier. Perhaps it's because this 200-year-old resort treats its guests to a string of special festivities. For 12 days, beginning on Dec. 22, The Greenbrier holds programs and performances for every age: There are arts and crafts and puppet shows for children, for example, skating instructions and bowling for teenagers, and cooking demonstrations, fashion and financial seminars, and ballroom dance classes for parents. There's caroling for all, plus a performance of Handel's ``Messiah'' and other musical entertainment.
The Greenbrier dates back to the 1780s, when Michael Bowyer began renting cabins to travelers interested in soaking in the natural sulphur springs. Cottages and an inn were added in the early 1800s. Robert E. Lee stopped here, as did 23 US presidents.
The resort won't be serving a special Christmas breakfast, says Greenbrier Chef Hartmut Handke, but he offers one of the most popular breakfast dishes as a suggestion.
FRENCH TOAST 10 one-inch-thick slices of french bread, cut diagonally clarified butter for frying (or substitute regular butter) 12 ounces light cream 6 whole eggs 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar Combine cream, eggs, spices, vanilla, and sugar. Mix until texture is consistent. Soak the bread in mixture one minute on each side. Saute in clarified butter in hot skillet until golden brown, then bake in oven for 6 minutes at 375 degrees. French toast should puff up. Serve hot. Makes 5 portions. LEMON, CINNAMON, AND MAPLE BUTTER Melt 4 ounces sweet butter with one teaspoon of cinnamon. Add the juice of one lemon and an ounce of maple syrup. Whisk together. Serve hot.