The Holidays bring back unique memories from my childhood, growing up in the Grand Valley. From looking at lights in local neighborhoods, to cutting down our own Christmas tree, there are Wagner family traditions that can only be done right here, in Western Colorado.
One of my favorite memories is driving around to look at Christmas lights. My family and I would pack in the car and drive around to multiple locations throughout the city. We would search for displays that were off the beaten path, ones that not everyone knew about, and we’d also go to some heavily viewed displays. One place we always went was the Northridge Neighborhood (it’s just north of Patterson off of 1st street). There was always a line of cars, with their headlights off, cruising slowly up and down the streets of the neighborhood. Another favorite location was a neighborhood off of 15th Street. I don’t remember the name of this neighborhood, but if you take Patterson and turn North onto 15th street, then make a right on Crestview Way, you should see the sparkling houses lining a lake. It’s been a few years since I’ve taken this holiday light tour, so these may not be the best spots anymore… if you have a neighborhood that’s worth driving through, post the address on my blog or upload a picture to our “Light up the Holidays” contest. You could win a tour of your own, in a Limo!
While the nights in the car, looking at Christmas lights are a source of fond memories, I also remember my Sister being rather annoyed with me during the tour. You see, I had a tendency to get car sick back then, and at least once a year we would have to pull over because I got sick. It’s a sore spot for my Sister. After a few years, she didn’t enjoy the holiday light tours so much - she would say, “Why should we go, Mandy’s just going to get sick.” Despite the nausea, I remember those nights in the car with my family and wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Another holiday tradition in the Wagner household was of course decorating our Christmas Tree. But before we could trim it, we had to chop it down. I have a memory of going up to Glade Park and cutting down our own tree one year. However, this didn’t really stick as a tradition in our family. That’s because according to my Dad, my sister and I complained about being cold the whole time (I have a hard time believing that J ). Most years, we let the Boy Scouts do the tree chopping for us. Before they had the lot full of their trees for a fundraiser (this year it’s across from Gene Taylor’s) they’d take orders for the trees and go cut them. Our family, and many others would request a certain height of tree and the Scouts would go up and cut it (while my sister and I stayed in the warm house). We had them do the tough work out in the cold for the majority of the years and then once they set up their lots, we’d go pick one out from there.
Holiday cooking continues to be one of my favorite activities this time of year. My Grandmother is a great baker and my Mom definitely learned from her. (As for me? I must have missed out on that gene, but I still like to eat the sweets even if I can’t bake them). Despite my handicap in the kitchen, I still help out my Mom with the Holiday Baking the kitchen making what else but Christmas Cookies. Some of my favorites: candy cane cookies (Grandma’s recipe), magic cookies (from my Great Grandmother) and skillet cookies (again, from Grandma). I also remember my Grandfather making toffee. He’s the only person I know that could give Enstrom’s a run for their money J.
Every Christmas Eve, I would write Santa - and Rudolph - a letter. I’d make sure to leave out cookies, milk and a carrot for Rudolph. In the letter, I thanked Santa for stopping at my house, and assured him he hadn’t made a mistake, I had been a very good little girl. Santa would always leave me a note back, thanking me for the treat, and it would always be half eaten. Santa must get full, eating all those cookies.
I’d love to hear some of your holiday traditions. You can post comments to this blog at the top of the page.
Happy Holidays. I hope Santa visits each one of you this Christmas.