Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Home for the Holidays

Riding ATV's (and the riding lawn mower!) in my parent's neighborhood; the sugary, wafting smell of my mother’s monkey bread on Christmas morning; the sound of my sister’s laugh as she tells a side-splitting story; the look of my father’s smile as he watches his family enjoy his home that he and my mother worked so hard to create; the feel of my husband’s embrace as we watch our children experience their first Christmases… these memories last a lifetime.

Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go. As Christmastime approaches I prepare for our annual trip to Oklahoma to visit my parents who live in Edmond. My amazing husband and I will pack up our two small children and make the seven hundred mile trek to spend the holiday at ‘home’. While I’ve never lived in Oklahoma, home is where the heart is and I can’t imagine a Christmas without my family

My mother, a minimalist throughout the year, decks her house with every type of Christmas decoration imaginable. From her Precious Moment themed Christmas tree to her multiple Christmas villages, assorted reindeer, Santa Claus figures and snowmen, my parents' house is a festive holiday wonderland.

We normally make the journey to OKC by car but this year we have chosen to travel by airplane. The 12 hour road trip with two small children sounds worse than getting coal from Old Saint Nick! I can’t say the TSA pat down will be any better; it just won’t last as long.

Aside from spending time with my family, Oklahoma City proves to be an up-and-coming destination that is easily accessible for Denverites, like me. I’ve heard the town described as ‘Denver 20 years ago’; less traffic, less smog, and less people. Like Denver, Oklahoma City has a strong western heritage, enjoys thousands of hours of sunshine per year and is a place that redefines itself over time.

Oklahoma City is the second largest city in the nation, based on geographical size. The 1.1 million people that call OKC home like a lot of space! This spatial attitude comes from the history of Oklahoma’s land run of 1889 when 50,000 people rushed the two million available acres staking claim to lands throughout the current state of Oklahoma.

A feeling of abundant space and rural serenity still exists in many parts of Oklahoma today. My parents live in a town called Edmond, a part of the Oklahoma City metro area and the sixth largest city in Oklahoma. Located on the historic Route 66, it’s a rural-feeling place where the choo choo of the passing train can be heard and where people still greet each other like neighbors in a small southern town.

If you’re fixin’ to visit the Sooner State don’t miss my favorite stops in Oklahoma City:

Nonna’s Euro-American Ristorante and Bar: Set in the charming Bricktown Entertainment District, unique and eclectic food such as Italian-style pastas and salads as well as great breads and desserts make Nonna's a total package. After a lovely dinner stroll Bricktown and the canal that runs through it to discover why downtown OKC is so downright cute!
Ted’s Café Escondido in Edmond: This no-frills restaurant is reminiscent of a Denny’s splashed with Mexican poncho patterns. While the décor leaves a lot to be desired, there is always a wait for a table at Ted’s… testimony that the Tex- Mex style food served here is terrific.
La Baguette Bistro: Founded by two brothers from France, this bistro offers traditional French cuisine as well as an adjacent bakery and market (the only place in OKC where I could find a rack of lamb). One of the best selections of gourmet cheeses and meats in Oklahoma City.
Inspirations Tea Room: A lovely tea room located in Edmond. Browse chichi merchandise located in the shop while you wait for your table. Enjoy tea sandwiches, scones, delicate pastries, and an assortment of teas in a beautifully girly atmosphere.
NorthPark Mall: A boutique mall that boasts over 40 upscale specialty stores that cater to a range of ages and interests. In a city that’s very corporate, it’s refreshing to visit this unique collection of small boutiques; a polar opposite of standard mall shops.
Paint Your Art Out: Enjoy your own beverage while local artists give step by step instructions to paint a pre-sketched canvas. A fun experience where I discover the artist deep, deep down within.

While OKC is unassuming, the sprawling city boasts many attractions, restaurants, shops, and entertainment options to suit even the most callous of city slickers. Slowly developing into a bona fide ‘city’, OKC is a place where the clock slows down and the main attraction is spending quality time with family, which I am so looking forward to.

Though I’ve never lived in Oklahoma City, home is where the heart is and there’s no place like home for the holidays. For no matter how far away you roam. If you want to be happy in a million ways for the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home.

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