|The lobby of our hotel.|
However, as is normal for our family, we created quirky traditions that became an integral part of this annual trip 'over the river and through the woods' like making sure we listened on the card radio to Hispanic Christmas Carols as we drove to the Chicago suburbs. Christmas Eve just wasn't complete until I heard 'Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus?' We also made sure we attended the Christmas Eve candle light service at our church before making the trip; no matter how hectic the last minute preparations were, with all the gifts and suitcases packed into the car for the trip, when we were walking into church, the true peace of the Christmas season would wash over me. That annual reminder of our true Christmas celebration always put everything else into perspective.
This year, just like many other things in our life, Christmas was again going to be different. Alan and I were on our own and we could do whatever we wanted - even stay home this year for Christmas! So what did we decide to do for Christmas... head to Branson, Missouri. This plan started to hatch when we discovered that Branson is famous for it's Christmas lights. After a bit of Googling, we realized a trip to Branson may be a fun Christmas adventure.
|Roadside Charlie Brown trees.|
|Washboard Leo - a member of the Cajun band.|
|Alan is standing in front of one of|
light covered buildings.
|One float in the|
Parade of Lights
We took our seats and were at first disappointed because there was elderly rather 'rough' lady in the audience that was talking local politics (rather loudly) and then when the first musician of the bluegrass band arrived, he continued the discussion with her. Then, as they got started we discovered this lady was not only a long time resident of Branson but also volunteered each year to tell a delightful mountain-folk rendition of the The Night Before Christmas each year at this venue.
|The Homestead Pickers & Jessie|
As we were enjoying the music, there is a knock on the back door of the cabin, next to where the band is playing. A musician opens the door and in walks 'Uncle Jake' in his red flannel Union Suit, who announced he was the owner of the cabin.and was coming in to go to bed. Since his house was full, including a few people sitting on his bed, he sat down with the band to talk for a while. What followed was a very hilarious half-hour with a lot of improvisation that even had the band members cracking up. The audience even started chiming in with 'one-liners'. The 25 minute show went on for over an hour and as we were leaving that cabin, Alan remarked on the fact that while we had thoroughly enjoined our entire experience at Silver Dollar City, that last hour spent in a tiny, packed, over-heated log cabin was by far the highlight of the day.
Day Two - Christmas Eve Day
|We approach the spring flowing over the road ----and make the crossing. A view of another crossing..|
|I tried to convince Alan that|
we needed this fireplace at home.
|The room where the Christmas Eve service was held.|
'Christmas at Denny's', a rather depressing little ditty, but a great way to build another memory! Then back to the hotel to enjoy Christmas Eve in the hot tub.
Day Three - Christmas
As I mentioned previously, we were having brunch at Big Cedar Lodge, so we jumped in truck and drove there once again. Brunch was amazing and it was fun texting and facebooking with friends and family, catching up on how the grandkids were enjoying their Christmas morning's. After brunch, and some further exploration of Big Cedar Lodge, we returned to our hotel for a relaxing afternoon, which is where I am at right now, sitting by the fire in the lobby writing this, so I have to stop until I can finish Day Four tomorrow.....Sitting here, we just recalled a tradition we had started several years ago with out kids which we may reinvent a bit later today. The final few Christmases we had spent traveling to the Chicago suburbs, we always left after Christmas dinner, but were hungry by the time we made it back to Wisconsin. So we had made it a tradition to go to our favorite local Chinese restaurant which was always open Christmas night. And since we had brunch at 10 AM today, we may feel a bit 'peckish' later on so Alan is Googling to see if we can find an open Chinese restaurant near by....
|An airport toy from Alan's childhood|
that he thought he would
never see again.
After the fabric store, next on our agenda was a Toy Museum, where Alan had lots of fun showing me all the various toys on display that he had had as a child. The Toy Museum was also home of the Harold Bell Wright Museum. Harold Bell Wright is best known as the author of 'Shepherd of the Hills' although he also penned 17 other books. Shepherd of the Hills was turned into a play many years ago and it became the first attraction to ever reside in Branson, and it is now the longest running attraction as it is still performed in the outdoor theater.
|The Christmas on the Trail Show|
|Another photo of the lights at|
Silver Dollar City