Saturday morning presented the best opportunity for the Urban Family to enjoy the Fantasy of Trees. It’s been a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for almost thirty years – going back to the time the space at the bottom of the Holiday Inn offered our primary convention space and the event resided there.
I’m not sure if attendance was lower this year or if the combination of a cold morning and a UT/Kentucky football game proved the charm, but the crowds didn’t pose a problem. I hope timing explains it as I would hate to see the event fall into history for lack of participation. Massive amounts of money have been raised for Children’s Hospital through the sale of tickets ($12 for adults, $6 for children) and the sale of the Christmas trees and other items. In any case, the crowds that have presented a major obstacle for us in the past were not a problem this year.
I thought the trees, wreaths, decorated rooms and mantels were as pretty as ever, though there may have been fewer. It’s also possible this is one reason it felt less crowded and with hundreds of items on display, I’d say that’s a good trade-off. In the absence of children, it would be easy to spend a couple of hours taking it all in. In the presence of children, a speedier review is in order so that a beeline might be made for Santa, the Carousel, or any number of craft stations for any number of activities including Urban Girl’s favorite: Cookie Decorating.
One of my favorite stops at the event is spot for the gingerbread houses. Always creative and ever meticulous, I could spend a large amount of time examining each of the hundred or more on display if my party didn’t need to keep moving. Some people took extreme liberties with the concept of “house” and moved into intricate dioramas. I think the cowboy boots took my prize – and actually, I think first prize in the contest, as well.
Urban Father bought a ginger bread house for Urban Girl, but we also realized an economic opportunity lost. While food and drink were available for purchase, hot chocolate was not. Really? A festive Christmas event on a very cold day and no simple hot chocolate? Somebody needs to get on that for next year.
We left the event and walked to Coffee and Chocolate where they, indeed, do have Hot Chocolate, bought a round and finished off the decorated cookies. After that, it was nap time/kick-off time and we enjoyed UF/FSU, UT/Kentucky and Notre Dame/Southern Cal. Of course, we paused in between games for another round of seafood gumbo, thanks to Urban Woman.
Sunday brought a suggestion from Urban Father that we leave the city and drive into the mountains. I tend to get entrenched in the city and forget what lies just a short drive away. After navigating Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, we drove up to Newfound Gap. Urban Father was able to enjoy seeing some snow on the ground, which he rarely sees on the Gulf Coast and I was reminded that, as much as I love being in the city, there’s a world of beauty not so far away that I ought to enjoy more often. We’re lucky that way in east Tennessee.