Christmas Traditions

Christmas traditions are about more than just celebrating a season.  They are about celebrating family and keeping the magic of Christmas alive for generations to come.

Christmas is my favorite time of year, and though my family gets busier and busier, our traditions bring us together and keep us close.  We always make a big deal out of Christmas.  However, the gifts are not the main focus of the holidays for my family.  Keeping the magic of the season alive is the most important thing.

Today, I am sharing a few of my most precious Christmas traditions. These traditions truly make this the most wonderful time of the year.

  1. During the Great Depression, money was tight.  That didn’t stop my mother’s side of the family from giving the gift of love.  On Christmas Eve, and again on Christmas Day, the family members would hug each other and say, “Christmas Eve Gift” or “Christmas Gift.”  In fact, it became a game to see who would be the first to offer their Christmas Eve or Christmas “gift.”  The tradition has evolved over time, and now we race to be the first one in the family to greet someone with Christmas Eve Gift or Christmas Gift.  We even wake people up at midnight with the greeting, just to win the game.
  2. Christmas isn’t just about gifts in my family.  We celebrate the true meaning of Christmas by helping others.  We all try and help others all year round, but at Christmas, we try and make it extra special.  We want our children to be grateful for what they have and to always have a giving heart.  With that said, every year, we, along with the Texas High School Tigersharks, adopt a family for Christmas.  We all buy gifts for the children and adults alike and provide them with a full Christmas dinner.  If the children we adopt are young enough, my dad even volunteers to play Santa and pays a visit to the children personally.
  3. My family and I get a real Chrismas tree from Evergreen Christmas Tree Farm.  This tradition started about 5 years ago because my husband was frustrated trying to put up our fake tree.  We drove out to the lot, picked a tree, and watched as they cut it down and shook all the lose needles out of the tree.  The kids LOVED it.  We drink cocoa with the family that owns the tree farm and huddle by the wood burning fire inside the barn.  But the most special part of this tradition is finding random golf balls, from the nearby golf course, throughout the farm.  Each year, we bring home a golf ball and write the year on it and hang it from our tree.
  4. This tradition is very messy, and not for the faint of heart.  Every year, we buy each person in our family a package of tinsel.  But before we put it on the tree as decoration, we have our annual icicle fight.  We run around the house, jumping over dogs, furniture, and occasionally each other, throwing tinsel at each other, like snowballs.  It is not uncommon to find tinsel buried in the couch in February.
  5. Christmas Eve night, we make cookies for Santa and reindeer food to scatter outside for Rudolph and the gang.  Here is the recipe I use for reindeer food.

    Photo courtesy of http://www.amodernmrs.com/2013/12/magic-reindeer-food-recipe-and-poem.html

    6. During the day on Christmas Eve, my sister and I “plant” individually wrapped peppermints in a soil-filled small pot, with my three-year-old nephew.  When wakes Christmas morning, the peppermints have magically grown into candy canes.

    Photo courtesy of Pinterest

    7.  Lastly, on Christmas Eve night, the kids are allowed to open one gift each.  Each of them gets new pajamas, house shoes, and a coffee mug.  After they open the gifts, I make homemade hot chocolate, while they change into their new pajamas and we all sit down to watch a Christmas movie before bed.

These are just a few things that make Christmas extra special for my family.  I hope the traditions are passed on when my kids have children of their own.  What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

Christmas lights and delights

People all over the world show their Christmas spirit with festive light displays.  Thomas Edison started the tradition of Christmas light displays in 1880. Edison was so proud of his light bulb invention, he strung them together and hung them proudly from his Menlo Park laboratory compound.

Photos courtesy of edisonawards.com

Christmas in the South may not always be snowy and white, but Southerners are just as proud to celebrate the season with lights and all things magical.  See the list below for information on displays and festivities, in and around the area, to enjoy this holiday season.

Photo of Federal Post Office, Downtown Texarkana. Courtesy of Arkansas.com

Texarkana, Texas – The owners of the home at 4904 Lesley Lane, bring joy to the community with their animated light display.  The display is set to music which can be played from the comfort of your vehicle.

Texarkana, Texas – The residents of the culdesac on Spotswood in Pleasant Grove, located beside Williams Memorial Methodist Church, spell out “We Wish You A Very Merry Christmas,” in lit signs.  In fact, the tradition is so important to the residents, they even leave behind their signs, if they sell their home, so that the tradition may continue.

Texarkana, Texas – First Assembly of God Church, located at 3401 W. 7th Street will host their annual drive-thru, live Nativity Scene.  There will be over 100 people in costume, bringing the story of Jesus’ birth to life!  When you enter the parking lot, you will be able to tune in to a specialized radio broadcast and be greeted with hot chocolate and candy canes.  There will be live animals; sheep, cows, mules, goats, camels, and more.  This event is open to the public and FREE for everyone.  The event will take place on Friday, December 8, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. And again on Saturday, December 9, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.  See video link below to see a recap of the 2014 Live Nativity.  Video provided by Matt Cornelius, YouTube.com.

– Ashdown, Arkansas – The K.C.S. Railroad’s Holiday Express will make its stop in Ashdown, on December 6, beginning at 4:00 p.m.  The train will be stopped at Main St. and Hwy 71.  The Holiday Express is a six-car train, carrying Santa and his Elves.  The train has a flatcar carrying Santa’s sleigh, a smiling tank car named Rudy, reindeer and a miniature village, a gingerbread boxcar, the elves’ workshop, a reindeer stable, and a little red caboose.

Photo courtesy of TexarkanaFYI

Shreveport/Bossier Lousiana Boardwalk – A blizzard is forecast to occur every night at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., as well as 12:30 p.m. on weekends.  While at the Boardwalk, please be sure to visit Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shop.  In Santa’s Wonderland, kids get free digital pics with Santa and can make the Bass Pro craft of the week for free.  This place is magical for children old and young.

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Boardwalk

Photo courtesy of Louisiana Boardwalk

Tyler, Texas – Santa Land is a 24-acre drive-thru Christmas Park with over two million lights, Christmas music, a 250-foot long tunnel of lights with 12-foot Toy Soldiers, themed areas, a gift shop, and snack bar.    Santa Land is located at 11455 I-20 West Tyler, Texas.  Information and pricing listed below.

Photo courtesy of SantaLand Facebook Page

Video courtesy of YouTube.com

Marshall, Texas – Enjoy the Wonderland of Lights Festival in downtown Marshall, Texas this season.  The festival includes an outdoor ice skating rink, rides on the Holly Trolly, Wonderland Express and the vintage 1948 Herschel carousel. Visit the brand new Santa’s Village for cookies, train building, and pictures. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride on one of three carriages through Historic Downtown Marshall, then listen to live music at Telegraph Park downtown performed by local musicians, area churches and school choirs. Visit https://fareharbor.com/embeds/book/wonderlandoflights/items/?full-items=yes for prices on the various attractions.  And don’t forget to pay a visit to Central Perk Coffee House and warm up with a cup of gourmet coffee or hot chocolate.

Photo courtesy of Marshalltexas.net

Photo courtesy of Marshalltexas.net

The Harrison County Courthouse in downtown Marshall on Wednesday, December 21, 2011. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

The Louisiana/Texas Holiday Trail of Lights – The Holiday Trail of Lights includes multiple cities in both Louisiana and Texas.  You can visit one leg of the trail or all of them.  All cities on the trail are connected by I-20 and I-49.  The two legs of the trail, nearest to Texarkana, are Jefferson, Texas and Shreveport/Bossier, Louisiana.  Check out the video below for more details on the Holiday Trail of Lights.

Paying a visit to any of the Christmas displays listed above is sure to brighten your Christmas.  Be sure to check Facebook Events for more on local holiday events.  Have a safe and Merry Christmas from the staff at Eagle Eye Media.

Random Acts of Kindness

The holiday season is upon us.  Rather than adding to your wish list, or stressing over the trappings of the season; find your joy by doing random acts of kindness.

Random acts of kindness are selfless acts of kindness directed at complete strangers, with the sole intent of spreading love and kindness.  There is no better way to celebrate the joy of the holidays.

Below is a list of easy and fulfilling random acts of kindness.  Give them a try and see how they improve your holiday season.  You might just want to make them a part of your everyday life.

  1. Buy a stranger’s coffee.
  2. Leave some change in a vending machine, so that someone can get a free drink.
  3. Take some homemade treats to nurses, firefighters, teachers, or cops in your community to thank them for all they do.
  4. Leave a big tip for a waiter or waitress in need.
  5. Make treats and put them in the mailbox for the mailman.  Be sure to leave them a note, so they know the treats are for them.
  6. Take pet food, old blankets, and pet toys to your local shelter.
  7. Take flowers to a local hospital and have a nurse give them to a patient who needs to be cheered up.
  8. Donate food, books, toiletries, and warm clothing to the local homeless shelter.
  9. Do chores for a friend or family member.
  10. Adopt a deployed soldier and send him/her some much needed holiday cheer.  Here is the website:  http://www.adoptaussoldier.org/
  11. Give someone your place in line.
  12. Visit a nursing home.  Just talk to the residents, play board games with them, or get some friends together to sing Christmas carols and hand out Holiday cards.
  13. Give a hot drink to a Salvation Army bell ringer.
  14. Give a gift card to a stranger at the grocery store.  Any amount shows you care.
  15. Take classroom supplies to a teacher or two.  If you have Dr. Morton, then you know he always needs dry erase markers.
  16. Adopt an Angel from an Angel Tree.  Most of the time, these children aren’t asking for a lot.  I personally have adopted several angels over the years, and each time it cost me around $50.

Above all, this Holiday season and all year round, show kindness, compassion, and love for your fellow man.  Restore your faith in humanity by blessing strangers with random acts of kindness.

T-Town Showdown Car and Motorcycle Show

Redemption Repairs and Performance of Texarkana, Arkansas, hosted the T-Town Showdown Car Show on Veteran’s Day, Saturday, November, 11 at the Four States Fair Grounds from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event organizers honored veterans by allowing free entry to anyone with a military I.D.

The show featured classic cars, show-quality diesels, motorcycles, ATV’s, and premium sound systems.  This event was fun for adults and kids of all ages.  Optimus Prime from the popular Transformers movie series was on site.

After the pin-up girl and sound-off contest, multiple vehicles were spotted, performing burnouts for the crowd.  This show gets two thumbs up.

Photos by:  Misty Jones

         

 

Veterans Day Parade

The Texarkana Area Veterans Council hosted the annual Veteran’s Day Parade in downtown Texarkana, on Saturday, November 11, at 11 a.m.  The theme of this year’s parade was “Saluting Women in the Military thru the Years.”

The parade began at the intersection of East Broad Street and Hazel Street, in downtown Texarkana, Arkansas.  The festivities consisted of floats, local high school bands, antique cars, local motorcycle groups, Texarkana Jeep Junkies, the Corvette Club, Cub Scouts, and much more.   The TAMUT Eagle was also there, showing support for our student and community veterans.

The crowd was beaming with support for their veterans.  Children and their parents were proudly waving their flags and showing their support, as community organizations slowly trickled by passing out candy, flags, and cross pins to the crowd.

If you missed this year’s parade, check out the video link and photos below.

Video provided by KFLTV Texarkana – Youtube

 

Photos by:  Misty Jones

 

2nd Annual Texarkana Fall Festival

The second annual downtown Fall Festival, organized by local women’s organization Diva Maintenance, was held Saturday, October 28 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

This year’s festival consisted of a costume contest, live bands, vendors, a bounce house, and the infamous Texarkana Flash Mob.  With over 30 contestants, the costume contest was a big hit. The winner was baby girl, Ximena Ortiz, dressed as an owl.

Due to the cold front and the forecast for rain, this year’s festival only saw about half the attendance of last year’s event.  Last year, the attendance reached over 4,000.  The weather caused vendors to back out at the last minute and the vendors who braved the cold didn’t hang in until the 8 p.m. closing time.  As the crowd dwindled, the vendors began shutting down around 5:30 p.m.

The event organizer, Diva Maintenance, also organizes various food festivals downtown such as the Catfish Festival and the Back Alley Food Court.

Tameka Grady, a spokeswoman for Diva Maintenance, said, “We are already working to make the 2018 Fall Festival bigger and better.”

Photos provided by:  Tameka Grady

  

 

Don’t Let the Flu Catch You

You are coughing, you can’t breathe, every part of your body hurts.  You roll over and look at the clock, it’s 3 a.m.  You have to get up in a couple of hours to go to class and you realize you have the flu.  What do you do?  What could you have done to avoid this conundrum?

Unfortunately, not everyone knows what to do when they are sick.  They feel they must go to school or work, despite running fever and feeling ill.  This is how the flu spreads.  Here are a few tips to avoid spreading or catching the flu.

  1. If you feel ill, and especially if you are running fever, stay home.
  2. Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
  4. Wash your hands often.  If soap is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  5. Don’t touch your eyes, mouth, or nose.  Germs are often spread by touching something contaminated and then touching your face.
  6. Keep your home and workspace clean and disinfected.
  7. Get plenty of sleep.  Your immune system has to work overtime when you are tired.
  8. Exercise.  A healthy exercise routine keeps your body healthy.
  9. Avoid stress as much as possible.  Oftentimes, stress can weaken your immune system and cause physical symptoms.
  10. Drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious foods.  Keeping yourself hydrated and eating a healthy diet is a good way to support immune system function.
  11. Take a quality multivitamin.  Keeping your macro nutrient levels up can help support a healthy immune system.
  12. Above all, get your flu shot.  Pharmacies give the flu shot and it is covered by most insurances.  This preventative measure can save you tons of money on cold and flu medications and loss of work.

If you begin to feel ill, there are other things you can do to shorten the virus.  The over the counter, non-drowsy remedy Oscillococcinum is a great way to feel better fast.  You could also try taking Zinc, Vitamin D3, and Vitamin C to boost your immune response.

With the cold and flu season in full swing, it’s important to be vigilant.  Stay healthy!