New Holiday Traditions

omc-sdctreeWhen we moved to The Little House we needed to establish some new traditions on birthdays and holidays.

One thing we had always wanted to do was go to Branson, Missouri during the Christmas season. The Travel Channel calls Branson one of the most “Christmassy Places on Earth,” and I agree, that it’s hard not to get into the spirit when you’re there. Christmas is literally everywhere. We live only a little over an hour away now and we started making Branson a holiday tradition. It’s a fun way to get away from everyday life at Campbell Town for a day or even a weekend. This new tradition is also a great way to combine the new with the old – we always go to one of my favorite restaurants, Red Lobster, for my birthday dinner while there – a tradition we’ve had since my 16th birthday.

The first year we lived here we went for the day, eating breakfast and shopping at the Branson Landing until it was time for my fish fix. The Branson Landing is an outdoor mall set up to look like Main Street in a small town. It has quite a few shops and eateries and is on the banks of Lake Taneycomo. Of course, we don’t need more stuff, but I always find it fun to look and for those few Christmas gifts we do need to find, this is a fun place to shop.

Last year, we made a weekend of it, staying at the fabulous Hilton Convention Center, which is near downtown and the Branson Landing. We also visited Silver Dollar City, where the 19th century theme park is decorated for a Victorian holiday. It also has a magnificent 5-story Christmas tree in the center of the park and a Christmas parade each evening.

This place holds a lot of memories for us too. Not only did my parents vacation here and make the theme park part of our adventure when I was a child, Dale and I used to visit Branson for a week each year before we built The Little House. We would rent a cabin on Table Rock Lake and sometimes made visits to Silver Dollar City. There might be bigger and better roller coasters now, but “Fire in the Hole,” a comparatively tame coaster in an “abandoned mine” is still my favorite!

Of course, Christmas shopping and my seafood feast was on the agenda last year too.

This year, our new tradition was in question. It has been a challenging year here and we just didn’t think we would be making the trip, but thanks to selling some stuff we no longer need, we managed to get in an afternoon in Branson on Saturday, and I even got my annual fish fix!

By the time we had finished walking the entire length of Branson Landing, taking in the lights and getting hit with the brisk pre-winter wind that was blowing on Saturday night, we were ready to head home to our own Christmas lights at Campbell Town. With our new traditional visit to Branson, I’m now all set for Christmas!

How have your holiday traditions changed over the years? Is there a special place that makes the holiday season for you?

Keri – You won the drawing this morning for a bag of Wellness pet food and a bag of treats! Please email me at with your address and preference of dog or cat food! Thanks to all who shared their pet stories and entered the contest!

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9 Responses

  1. Kim says:

    I grew up visiting Branson with my grandmother, who loved the old country shows (the Baldknobbers, etc) and was game to take us to water slides and minigolf as well. Living just half an hour from there now, we bought SDC season tickets this year and introduced my kids (and her cousins) to the joys of that theme park. We’re all big fans.

    As for family traditions, we’re still building ours, and I’m always on the lookout for new ideas! This year we’ll be giving the kids a nativity set and acting out the Christmas story with it… something I hope to repeat yearly.

    • kerri says:

      Don’t you just love “Fire in the Hole,” Kim! 🙂
      What wonderful memories you’re making with your children. Those are so important, as I document in today’s post.

  2. Grant Wagner says:

    While not strictly chrismas, it’s funny you should mention Branson. When I was in my late 0’s and pre teens, I lived in the very “modern and hip” city of Virgina Beach. I had shopping malls and concrete and boardwalks and sand, and I loved it. About that time, my grandparents retired, descided to start turing the country in an RV, and made Branson their summer home base, so many summers were full of Silver Dollar City, boring RV parks with nothing really to do, and shows of old country stars.

    I laugh about it now, and that area does have a special place in my heart, but I would always remember it as the place where “Has been country country start go to fade away.”

    • Kerri says:

      That IS funny, Grant. If you haven’t been to Branson in some time, you wouldn’t recognize it. For me, those days back in the 60s and 70s were full of antique and craft shopping trips, along with Silver Dollar City. We didn’t see the shows there as the shows usually came to us as these country bands would tour all over Kansas and Missouri during the off season, selling out high school auditoriums and we always saw them in our own town. When Brason developed into a Vegas style strip in the 80s and 90s, we missed the old small town quaintness of it all. When Dale and I vacationed there as adults, we stayed on the lake far away from the strip and crowds. These days, though, I’m used to the new feel and look forward to our visits there. This is the closest town where we can get food from some of the name chains and if we need something such as new walking or hiking shoes. We’ve also been to the Titanic Museum and the only show I hope to see are the rock n roll impersonators!

  3. Bj says:

    I grew up in a military family, and as such had many a Christmas in locations all over this world. One of the traditions was, the pink peppermint lozenges…don’t know how, or where, but they were always in our stockings come Christmas morning, no matter where in the world we were. I have those lozenges, though they are becoming almost impossible to find, even for this year.
    In college, I lived on very little, so many of the traditions I grew up with-putting the big tree up after the football game on Thanksgiving Day, got changed by necessity. In an earlier posting, I mentioned that in my small motorhome (aka old woman’s dormroom), my tree became a painting or drawing of a Christmas tree pinned up on the wall. THat was all I could afford, or had room for!
    I have also begun a Christmas tradition to include eating a Peanut Butter Sandwich! LOL….I will have the turkey this year with all the fixings, but that Peanut Butter Sandwich sure tasted good freshman year when it was all I had in the pantry with five weeks til the next bit of student financial aid arrived!
    I intend to make Branson a Christmas tradition once I have moved up there. Actually this was my intent before I saw Kerri’s posting, but now even more, since I love the descriptions she gave and can’t wait to see it for myself!
    One tradition that has been born out of my college days, is I go to the dorms on Christmas day looking for those odd students who did not get invited because no one knew they were left there. These include international students, who are on a student visa, and cannot often afford to travel home, and most times do not have enough money to travel around the States either! This can also include non traditional students (older folk, like myself) who have returned to college late in life, and everybody just assumes they have family here. My professors were good to me and others, inviting me into their homes the last two years of my college years for every holiday!
    Merry Christmas to all! May this season be joyous as we remember the true meaning of Christmas!

    • Kerri says:

      I think you will love Branson, BJ. Your post reminded me of my mom’s tradition of always giving us a box of cherry chocolates for Christmas – Russell Stovers – if my husband can find them, he continues the tradition for me and marks them from “Mom.” 🙂

      • Bj says:

        *smiles*….yes, many a box of RS candies and Whitiers has been found in stockings too! God bless your husband for continuing that tradition!

  4. kerri says:

    That sounds wonderful, David! I agree that having bi-cultural traditions is wonderful. I had this a little growing up, as my family always celebrated Christmas the 24th, following my mother’s paternal German heritage. The 25th was for playing with new toys for the children and relaxing for the adults.
    I will post a little of our new bi-cultural traditions on Friday.

  5. David N. says:

    I live now in Ukraine, where traditions are considerably different. The trees and ornaments and such are much the same, but they revolve around New Year’s and not Christmas. Christmas here is in the Orthodox tradition in early January, and is a quiet, religious holiday. Our friends here, though, come to dinner at our home on the 25th to celebrate the “American Christmas” in my honor–and it is then, too, that we exchange gifts. Thus, I have two Christmases–one of which celebrates only the original reason for the holiday.
    Oh, yes–there is both St. Nicholas, who is recognized at a feast day on the first Saturday of December, and also two figures similar to our Santa Clause–one Grandfather Frost and a female, his daughter I believe, called the Snow Maiden.
    The beauty of a bicultural family is that we blend traditions and are able to celebrate both.