Three of our favorite family Christmas traditions happened this past weekend. Saturday afternoon we went to the local tree farm to pick out a tree and visit Santa. That evening we also attended the Tulsa Christmas Parade as a family. And our annual family baking day took place on Monday.
Saturday morning I got up early, and my sons Joel, Leif and I picked up their Aunt Elizabeth and cousins Faith and Cadence to participate in the Lowe’s Build and Grow. Over a three-week period, they have been building a Christmas Train. Saturday was the coal car. Because the weather has gotten colder, Lowe’s is holding the class in the employee break room. The past two Saturdays, it has also been increasingly crowded. This weekend, we were lucky we got there early and got our kits before they ran out. Faith and Joel are getting to be old pros at putting their kits together by now and needed very little help.
By the time we dropped the cousins off and picked up my daughter Virginia from work, we had time for only a very short rest before it was time to go to the tree farm. Pleasant Valley Farms is a local farm where we not only get our Christmas trees, but we also pick our pumpkins during the fall. The family that owns it is very nice.
After arriving at the tree farm, the first thing we did was go see Santa. The boys sat on Santa’s lap, where Joel told Santa he wanted race cars for Christmas and Leif made a grab for the candy cane Santa was offering. After that we caught a ride on a horse-drawn wagon and took a tour of the farm — the driver let Joel sit up front and even drive the horses for a minute. This was followed by some free hot chocolate.
Then it was time to grab a saw and set out to find the “perfect” tree. In short order, we found just the one and my husband made quick work of cutting it down. The workers carried it to the entrance, “shook the squirrels out of it” and loaded it into our truck. We got home with time to set it up in its stand and give it some water before the evening parade.
We all loaded back up in the truck, making sure to pack pillows and blankets, to head out to the Tulsa Christmas Parade. My eldest daughter Hannah had gotten there early and saved us a parking spot right by the parade route.
This year the Tulsa Christmas Parade was held at the new Tulsa Hills Shopping Center. In the past it has always been held downtown, but at some point city officials decided to rename it a “Holiday Parade,” and attendance and sponsors steadily dropped. This year private sponsors established the first annual Christmas Parade at Tulsa Hills. The night was beautiful, the parade was crowded, and a great time was had by one and all.
Sunday evening we attended a Christmas musical drama called “Believe” put on by Victory Christian Church. It was very well done: Live animals — including camels — were used. Our favorite parts were when the prophets were prophesying while interspersed throughout the audience, and when the shepherds were cracking jokes with each other.
My favorite family Christmas tradition was held on Monday this year: We pretty much baked all day. Jason started off the day at about 8:30am baking his famous chocolate chip, oatmeal, and nut cookies. While he was doing that, the rest of us (minus Hannah) worked on decorating the tree. When he was done, I started my Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. While the dough was in the fridge chilling, I made two batches of fudge. Then Virginia started her peppermint bark and toffee. After she was done, I baked off the Crinkles and made two more batches of fudge.
That evening when Hannah got home, she made the sugar cookies. By this time we were all pretty worn out, so we decided to save the cookie decorating until Tuesday. By Tuesday evening, everything was done and divvied up into containers for various lucky recipients — and the kitchen was starting to get back to normal. Once again, we ended up with way too many sweet treats, of course!
I love this time of year, mostly because of the family memories that we make. It is a time when we can remember the greatest gift we could ever receive, our Savior, and to give gifts to each other. The greatest gift I can give to and get from my family is time. I cherish every minute we can spend together.
Can you believe we’re already half-way through December? How is your family enjoying the time leading up to Christmas? What Christmas traditions have meant the most to you this year? We’d love for you to share them with us in the comments below.