Christmas Memories (Part 2: Twilights at Chimney Park)

Our next Christmas adventure is sure to become part of our yearly tradition, and I stumbled upon this gem on a family photoshoot. An old friend of mine needed some family photos done, so I suggested we head out to Chimney Park behind the local library as it has many nice spots for photos. Upon arriving, we discovered that there were people there decorating for an event that night. This worked out wonderfully for our photoshoot with the lovely Christmas decorations, and everyone there was very kind and patient with us.

A gentleman finally told me what all the decorating was about and invited us out to the event that evening. The event was “Twilights at Chimney Park”. For $5 we could see the lights, get a hot dog, hot chocolate, and s’mores, and enjoy various choirs singing carols. It seemed like a wonderful event to take my niece to, especially considering how much she enjoyed the Fairy Festival earlier in the year, so I proceeded to call and offer an invite and make plans to return that evening.

It was truly magical! You pay your fee, receive your tickets, and then the local elves whisk you into a winter wonderland filled with the sights and sounds of Christmas!

The first smell upon entering was that of hot chocolate, so of course, I stopped for a cup. We arrived early, so of course we were one of the first families in line to see Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Then we set out to explore the rest of the winter wonderland.

This tiny little park had magically exploded into a world of Christmas wonder. It was truly a fun and magical adventure, and I’m sure we will return year after year.

 

 

Christmas Memories (Part 1: Decorating and the Parade)

Christmas is over and a new year has begun, so we are left with but memories of the special things that happen at this most wonderful time of the year. Old traditions mix with new memories to say goodbye to one year and issue in the next.

So, with that being said, I will trot down memory lane and tell you about my Christmas. This year was a little different than most. My daughter turned 16 this year near Christmas, so a Sweet 16 Birthday Trip was scheduled during this holiday season. Because of this, we skipped many of the family gatherings in favor of a trip to Disney World. Yes folks, we skipped Christmas…but not entirely. Some traditions must be kept, and some traditions were sadly missed, but Christmas was still fun and exciting and especially special this year.

Now the tradition that always brings in the holiday season is of course the decorating. Every year on Thanksgiving Night we begin decorating the house for Christmas. When the guests are gone and our bellies are stuffed with turkey and all the fixings, we put on the Christmas music and bring the decorations down from the attic.

And of course, no Christmas tree is complete without a cat sleeping under its branches.

Every year we each get a new ornament, so each one we place on the tree has a special Christmas memory attached.

This year the nativity went up on the mantel.

And after all was said and done, we had a beautifully decorated tree…if I do say so myself.

Even the sock monkeys helped to decorate this year.

Then the day after Thanksgiving, we finished up the decorating with the outside lights.

The next big Christmas tradition is the local annual Christmas Parade. Each year my husband’s workplace has a float in the parade, so usually, we are all in the parade in some fashion. This year, only my daughter followed the float while I took pictures and my husband prepared for the after-parade kids’ party.

There were so many beautiful floats this year, and everyone seemed to be having such a great time. Like with every year though, I think half of our town was in the parade leaving the viewing audience a bit thin. But it’s all fun!

And that is the end of Part 1. Be sure to keep your eyes open for Part 2: Twilights at Chimney Park.

Holiday Reflections: Christmas Memories

Ahh… back to my blog. I can’t believe it’s been a month since I have written anything. The holidays certainly kept me busy. For us, Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving. On that wonderful day, our home is transformed from ordinary to extraordinary. The lights and trimmings come out and the transformation begins.

This year as we pulled out the outdoor decorations. it was discovered that our wonderful little grazing reindeer had reached the end of their days. Half of their lights refused to shine; therefore, it was necessary to retire them and head out in search of a new lawn ornament. After looking about a bit, we discovered a giant blow-up snowman that was perfect to go with our giant blow-up sock monkey. We placed them in the perfect position to wave at people coming down the street.

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The next adventure was putting up the tree. Well, we got out our old artificial tree, and it too had reached its last Christmas. The branches were thin and the half of its lights were burned out as well. At this point, we decided to get our first live tree, so off to Berry’s Tree Farm we went. We found a perfect Leland Cypress, cut it down, and brought it home.
Every year we each get a new Christmas ornament to put on the tree. We started this tradition many moons ago on our first Christmas together as a married couple. That was 20 years ago, so you can imagine how many ornaments we have considering we added two kids along the way. Every year my husband unpacks these treasures and distributes them to their respective owners. As we hang them on the tree, conversations begin about when we got a particular ornament and why it was so special then. We marvel over how our tastes have changed (or not changed as the case may be) over the years. It is such a special time, full of memories.

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Soon enough the tree was decorated, pictures were taken, and we could sit back and enjoy all of the festive decor. The situation changed all too soon however, as the cats began to eat the tree. Our smallest (and oldest) fur baby, Frodo, began to get very sick. Within a couple of weeks, the live tree had to come down, and the hunt for a new artificial tree began. Little did we know that artificial trees get harder to come by the closer it gets to Christmas. In time, however, we found a nice tree at Target. The fun part of it all was that we got to do tree decorating twice this Christmas.

Then came the family gatherings. This year everyone came to our house, so I had the pleasure of making three Christmas feasts. The first was on the 14th with my husband’s father and step-mother. We had a lovely visit and played an interesting guessing game that my daughter found an app for.

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Our second gathering was on Christmas eve. Every year we have a formal dinner on Christmas eve just for the four of us. This year, however, we invited my mother-in-law over. She had the pleasure of watching us try to get our annual family pictures done before dinner, and she had a few taken herself. After dinner, we read through the book we read every year, and then we opened our stockings. This has been a family tradition for us since the children were very little, and it was such a blessing to have my mother-in-law be a part of it this year.

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And the last gathering was Christmas day with all of my family. We ate lots of food and played with our Christmas presents. However, for this gathering, my thoughts often strayed to the one who wasn’t there to be with us. This was the fourth Christmas without my father… our own special Santa Clause. It still isn’t quite the same without him.

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And after this gathering, we were all quite tired. It was a nice Christmas, and it was nice to be able to avoid all of the traveling we have done for so many years. It was also nice to provide a feast for everyone to enjoy. And that is all for the 2014 Christmas memories, and the time has come to move on to making 2015 memories.