There’s something about the holiday season that stirs up feelings of nostalgia. As the days get shorter and nights get longer and a chill begins to fill the air, our hearts are filled with warm memories of time spent with family and friends. Traditions can take all shapes and forms depending on those who choose to keep them going. Sometimes its unwrapping Christmas ornaments made from popsicle sticks or perfecting a recipe that’s been passed down from generation to generation. It’s sitting by the fire, sipping on cocoa and reading “The Night Before Christmas.” It’s finding the perfect Christmas tree and realizing its too big to fit through the door, but somehow with a little bit of determination, managing to squeeze it through anyway.
A Twenty-Foot Tall Tradition
The staff at The Omni Homestead Resort are well acquainted with this dilemma. Each year, the week of Thanksgiving, they have (thus far successfully) squeezed a tree that is twenty-three feet tall and sixteen to eighteen feet wide through a door that measures only four feet in width. The Omni Homestead spends months (sometimes years) scouring the forests of North Carolina for the sapling. A week before Thanksgiving it is cut and transported to the resort, where employees join in getting the behemoth through the door, and eventually up on its feet (or trunk). A crowd inevitably forms, and guests cheer as employees assist on multiple floors that overlook the lobby. Once in place, it can take up to seven hours to trim the tree with over two thousand ornaments and twelve hundred and fifty LED lights.
Welcome to Dallas
Decorating the tree can be a tradition in and of itself, and you don’t have to have a tree that’s twenty-three feet tall to have ornaments that conjure memories of special times shared with loved ones throughout the year. Christmas ornaments are so often a special way to remember family vacations, a new hobby, and special interests. Giving ornaments as gifts is a great way to mark a milestone. A tiny ornament can say something as important as “welcome to the family” or “you are loved.” A new ornament featured in the décor of the Omni Dallas Hotel downtown this holiday season includes the Pegasus, which is iconic both to the city of Dallas and to the hotel. From 1934 to 1999, the iconic Pegasus twirled above the Dallas skyline from the roof of the Magnolia building. The giant red horse was a sign to travelers that they were approaching the city limits, and a signal to locals that they were home. In the late nineties the Pegasus was looking worse for the wear and packed away, until its restoration in 2015, when it was brought to the Omni. Whether you make garland out of freshly popped popcorn, or let the little ones go crazy with the tinsel, unwrapping boxes full of ornaments collected throughout the years evokes happy memories from years gone by.
Christmas Cookies and Competition
For some, its not just about the twinkle lights or finding the perfect Balsam Fir. The warmth of the holidays can be felt coming from the oven, creating dozens of Christmas cookies to share. It doesn’t matter if they are made from break-and-bake or a recipe written on a fifty-year-old index card, the smell of warm cookies always draws a crowd into the kitchen. For the past thirty years, its gingerbread that’s drawn a crowd to The Omni Grove Park Inn. The Ashville resort has been the official home of the National Gingerbread House Competition since 1992. Each year dozens of beautiful culinary creations are on display in November and December, when the official judging takes place. People come from all over to visit the idyllic Blue Ridge Mountains and see the edible works of art.
Traditions vary from person to person, family to family and across cultures. Sometimes the holidays mean making new traditions, creating new families and memories that in the future, will evoke the warm nostalgic feeling of time shared with the ones we love.