Y’all, it really is the most wonderful time of the year! This weekend, my husband and I traveled to Dayton for Christmas on the River. We were able to spend time with friends and get in some extra holiday time with my parents. I wish I could bottle up that weekend, and keep it on a shelf. It was that good, and I’d go back right now, if I could!
We started the weekend right with tree decorating! Tree decorating has a special place in my heart. When you grow up in the woods, it feels a little silly to pay for a tree, or heaven forbid, have an artificial tree. Each year for as long as I can remember, my dad would take me out on our land to find the perfect Christmas tree.
One year, when I was really into running, my dad followed me as I did a long run so that we could fit in running and looking for the tree before I had to go back to school. That’s commitment- both to finding the perfect tree and spending time with your daughter!
When we looked for the perfect tree, Dad and I refused to be rushed. We would spend as long as it took, riding through the fields (or running through Dayton) to find a tree that met my very particular standards. Was the tree the right shape? Did it have it have a sturdy trunk? Was it 10 feet tall? These were a few of my requirements.
Dad and I would walk around the tree making our comments as we decided if this would be THE tree. If there were art critics for trees, we would be very qualified! Once the tree was approved, he would chop it down, and load it in the truck. Then, we’d take on the task of finding a tree for Mim. A tree for a grandmother has to be very special, and we spent equal amounts of time finding her tree.
Every time we took the tree home, it was met with my mom’s disapproving look. Each year we were warned, “Let’s see if we can find a shorter tree this year, ok?”. It isn’t that she’s a Scrooge, but Dad and I are notorious for finding trees that are far too tall for our home and our family. See above requirement re: tree height. When you and your parents are each around 5′ tall, it’s a little ambitious to bring home a tree that’s twice as tall as you. Most years only the bottom half of our tree was decorated. It’s quirky, but lots of traditions are quirky.
After our tree was decorated, I’d set off by foot to Mim’s home. She would make me hot chocolate, and I would spend the rest of the day at her house drinking hot chocolate and helping her decorate the tree.
This year, my dad passed the torch to Dan. When it was time to find a tree for the camp house, Dad passed on his gloves and saw, and sent me and Dan to the perfect tree finding spot. Dan and I easily fell into my old tree finding routine, taking our time, asking the important questions before deciding, and then cutting the tree for the camp house. In this moment, I realized how great my husband is, and how thankful I am for the time my father spent with me. I also appreciate Dad’s wisdom to wear thick long sleeve shirts and gloves. We did not, and we learned the hard way that a cedar tree is pretty prickly.
When we got into Dayton late Friday night, Dad was up waiting for us and we quickly began decorating the tree with our friends. We covered the tree in burlap garland, cloth covered ornaments, and a huge burlap bow!
Saturday morning began with breakfast, as it always should!
We had coffee cake, sausage pinwheels, cherry almond granola, yogurt and fruit. This was supposed to be a light breakfast so we could have plenty of room for Chicken on a Stick, but I’m not sure it met that requirement.
The table setting was so rustic and inviting. We were able to use simple greenery and pinecones from Dayton to decorate the center of the table. We sat at the table for a long time! When there’s good food and good conversation, it’s hard to leave. I had an overwhelming feeling that Olive would have loved this breakfast. We always had Christmas breakfast at her house, and it felt so natural to do that again.
We also hung “joy” in the kitchen . It seemed like the perfect word to describe our weekend, and hanging it in the kitchen seemed obvious. After all, that’s where we spent most of our time and where we had some great conversations. I’m not surprised that Olive’s kitchen is still hosting great conversations and time with friends.
After breakfast, it was time for the Children’s Day Parade in Demopolis. Remember that Tweety Bird photo I shared? Well, there was more paper mache goodness this year!
Check out this fantastic float and precious Olaf!
After the parade, we headed to the square for Fair in the Square. What’s a fair without fair food? The clear winner of our group’s vote was Chicken on a Stick and funnel cake!
We went for a long walk when we got back to the camp house. It was much needed after all of the delicious food we ate! This is a sign of a good and muddy walk!
Then, it was time to go back to Demopolis to see the Floats that Really Float! The elves lead the parade each year, and I feel like it is officially the Christmas season now that I’ve seen them! The weather was just the right amount of chilly for watching the floats, and they looked beautiful this year!
Back at the camp house, it was time for hot chocolate! We had a hot chocolate bar, watched White Christmas (a classic) and played Catch Phrase.
Our hot chocolate bar consisted of mini marshmallows, jumbo marshmallows, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, candy canes, and pirouette cookies. I threw in some Oreo truffles and brownies for good measure. I will not judge you for the amount of sugar you put into your hot chocolate. If elves can stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup, then you can add as much sugar as you want to your hot chocolate during Christmas.
Sunday morning consisted of sleeping in, another huge breakfast, and spending more time with friends.
It was really hard to leave. But, seeing this perfect wreath and front porch decorations as we drove away made that a little better!
I can hardly wait for more time with our friends and family! I am so looking forward to having them in our home for Christmas!
I hope you enjoyed the trip to Dayton for Christmas on the River! I am so thankful you were able to come along through Mim and Olive, and hope that you’ve gotten a glimpse of one of my favorite Christmas traditions!
Check in with Mim and Olive again this week. I’ll be sharing the rest of the recipes we used for our breakfasts this weekend, how I made the cloth ornaments, and more decorating plans!