Tuesday, December 24, 2013
It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of year already – although it should be, after all, stores have had their holiday decorations out since before Halloween. We’ve hauled out the tubs from the storage bays, shook out the balls of tangled lights, unpacked the ornaments, assembled the tree, and our home on wheels is once again Christmasy and cheery. It may be hard to imagine for those who live in a “conventional” home, but our Christmas season is full of activities, friends, and holiday cheer.
One area we always try to visit is Johnson City and it’s fabulous light display. The birthplace of LBJ and his family home, the small town has a Christmas parade and small festival, along with some memorable lights. The parade route circled the main square and courthouse, where every building was covered in lights. The parade was what you’d expect of a small Texas town – lots of antique tractors, fire engines, and a few floats with the 4H club and Rotary club represented. Still, it was fun – the night was not too cool, the crowd was festive, and the local brewery provided a good meal. From the parade, we wandered over to the light show that the town is famous for. The Pedernales (pronounced perd’n-allis in Texican) Electric Company uses over a million lights to create a magical forest. It’s hard to describe the feeling as you walk under the trees – but it’s magical!
No Christmas season in Texas would be complete for us without a trip to the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio. Each year thousands of lights are hung from the trees along the banks, and at night the Riverwalk and surrounding buildings provide a beautiful light show. We started out with dinner at our favorite eatery in downtown; Shilo’s (Shee-lows) Delicatessen. A landmark since 1927, it provides a real German food alternative to all the touristy, foo-foo restaurants on the Riverwalk. I decided to go with my old standby – Braunschweiger Liver Sausage with dark rye, pea soup, German potato salad, and a frosted mug of their home-made root beer. Known locally as the “Lipitor Special”. Brenda had her favorite, the “Kraut Dog”. I hesitate to use that name since in this day of politically-correct social media, I may be accused of using a slur – please, it’s short for “sauerkraut” – it’s on the menu. Really.
Leaving Shilo’s, we walked over to Alamo Plaza to see this year’s tree. It was nice, but what was remarkable was the emptiness of the plaza on a warm Thursday night. The only person in sight was the lady who reminds you that the Alamo is a “shrine” , to speak quietly, and not to believe Billy-Bob Thornton’s portrayal of a cowardly Davy Crocket in the movie. I’m not entirely sure about that last part.
Next stop was the Menger Hotel, a beautiful old hotel built in 1859 and still in use today, for a look at their tree. This is always a must-see for us when in the area; the huge tree and beautiful setting are sure to put you in the holiday spirit!
Finally, we headed for the Riverwalk. The mall at the head of the river has not changed much over the years, in fact the same South American group is still at the outside entrance since our first trip nine years ago. After a bit of unsuccessful shopping, we hopped on one of the barges for a nice ride up and down the river. The lights were everywhere, carolers in boats serenaded the crowds, and diners crowded the sidewalks. A perfect holiday evening!
And now, as Christmas approaches, the leg lamp has been decorated, the tree is surrounded by presents, and we take time to reflect on how fortunate we are to have so many friends and a lifestyle we love. To all of you out there, thanks for following our travels, and may you have a magical, wonderful, and memorable Christmas!