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Tulsa Tradition Reflects the True Spirit of the Season

Strawberry Rhubarb pie, santa mugs and the plaza Christmas lights…childhood memories that take me back to Christmas in Kansas City. As I was working on the Tulsa Traditions segment for Creative Living, it was fun to reflect on some of my family’s long standing holiday traditions. Those annual customs that bring to mind comfort and cheer.

I grew up in a family of four in Leawood, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. I had one sister, Annette, and a super cute shiatzu named Charlie. My mom loved holidays and always went all out on holiday décor. It was a winter wonderland at our house complete with Santa’s village under the tree, carolers displayed on the piano and Santa mugs stationed in the kitchen ready for hot chocolate at the first sign of snow.

The Christmas season officially began the day after Thanksgiving.  Instead of shopping, we spent the day pulling boxes out of the attic and decking the halls of our house.  I loved it!! The colored Christmas balls, jolly Santa’s and strings of white lights created a beautiful setting for the joyous season.

Jenny Willis (right), Christmas time with with her sister

Christmas in our home was a time to celebrate our faith and gather with family and friends. We had a tradition of exchanging homemade holiday goodies with neighbors and close friends. Toffee, peanut butter fudge and sugar cookies were some of my favorites! My mom either made bread and butter pickles or homemade plum jelly. Perhaps she avoided making sweets because my dad was a dentist.

The holiday season also meant there would be festive parties and annual church celebrations to attend. I really loved these traditions because I’m social and it was a good excuse to get a new sparkly dress or the ever popular Christmas sweater. I’m still wearing them by the way, they come in handy for those ugly Christmas sweater parties.

Jenny Willis (right), Christmas time with with her sister

Christmas Eve was always my favorite day of the holiday season. We dressed up, went to a fancy restaurant on the Plaza and drove up and down the sometimes snowy streets taking in all of the beautifully lit stores and buildings. I know I’m biased, but I still think it’s one of the most beautiful displays of lights in the country.

Tulsa holiday traditions

Christmas morning meant movies of my sister and I tearing open gifts, sausage egg casserole and Manheim Steamroller’s Christmas collection playing in the background.  Later in the day after a festive feast, I somehow made room for the scrumptious strawberry rhubarb pie. My stomach wasn’t the only thing full. My heart was always grateful for family, friends and faith. In my mind, the best part of the Christmas tradition that never gets old and carries on from one generation to the next.

Tulsa Holiday Traditions segment featured on Creative Living: