For as long as I can remember, I’ve been braving the traffic of eager Christmas lovers to see the infamous Christmas tree at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort. It was a tradition my late father implemented in the younger years of our family. All five of us kids and my parents would pile into our van and make the two-hour trip up I-40 from Jackson, TN, through the traffic and in to see the large Christmas tree. For years, Christmas was not complete until we embarked upon this last ritual. Each year, the trip has gotten more elaborate and we’ve included friends of the family. The funny part about this is, we’d usually take one photo for keepsakes and my dad would be ready to go. The best part, it was and is still worth every second. We’ve turned the experience into a day of meals, experiences, and memories.
This year, I decided to go a little bit earlier than usual to add to my family’s tradition in my own little way. I scheduled a day date for my husband and me to enjoy this Christmas wonderland ourselves. We usually have 10 or more people fighting the bustling Christmas traffic when we go as a group. Therefore, I decided this year, I wanted a more intimate experience with my newlywed husband!
First, let me just say that I always cry when I go to Opryland now! It makes me miss my dad and reminisce all the times we had there. I am beyond grateful that he started this family tradition. In the photo above, this was the last trip we’d made with him to the Opryland Hotel in 2015! Alex and I had just gotten engaged over holidays and were reeling with excitement. The day was filled with cheer as we were accompanied by the largest group that had ever gone to the holiday attraction. The group was so large that we had strangers in our family picture as we all gathered as close as we could in front of the 48-foot-tall Christmas tree. However, that’s one of the best parts of this attraction. It’s like your celebrating Christmas with family from all over the world! It’s okay if you add a few extra folks to your photos or even grab somebody random to take your photos. My daddy would always say, “Alright everybody! Gather ’round!” I’ll never forget it!
This year, as Alex and I ventured into nine-degree temperatures of A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz, we laughed and cuddled and created our own set of memories. I, even, shed more tears! The exhibit has over 2 million pounds of colorful, larger-than-life ice sculptures that make you feel like you’re an extra on the Charlie Brown Christmas special. This astonishing attraction is “hand-carved by 40 master artisans from Harbin, China, who use their artistry to create favorite scenes with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and friends, plus multi-story ice slides.” We walked through admiring the artistry and talking about the many lessons we could all learn from Charlie Brown. I always loved that Charlie Brown never let anything get him down! And no matter how scared he was, he went for it anyway. He made the best of situations! That’s exactly how I think of carrying on my dad’s tradition at Opryland.
Upon finishing the exhibit, we headed straight for the Arctic Lounge to revive our body heat. We sat and drank Santa’s Mules and exchanged conversation with a few couples from various places: Illinois and Shelbyville, TN. People travel from everywhere to make this attraction and it’s well worth the experience. Most of the couples we talked to had been returning for years as well.
As night approached, we ventured over to the Grand Ole Opry House for the Cirque Dreams Holidaze show. It was an experience that kept us on edge and exhilarated the entire time as the cast completed an array of unimaginable tricks while singing all of our favorite Christmas tunes. I felt like I was in the middle of a Christmas Eve dream coupled with the set of Alice in Wonderland. The acrobatics and theatrics of the show gave us a massive boost of holiday cheer. It was just what Alex and I needed to add to my family’s age-old tradition.
It is important that we each take time out to add to or start new traditions! Head on over to Gaylord Opryland to build your experience of a lifetime. I’ll be back after Christmas with the rest of my family and our friends to make more memories! What my dad started year’s ago is sure to be carried on for years through my family and those touched by my family. We all know the reason for the season! JESUS! However, a good family holiday tradition puts the icing on the cake!
Until next year, Happy Holidays!