Snow is falling on this chilly fall night, causing me to shift gears from Thanksgiving clean-up to Christmas preparations. Amy Grant will sing about a “Tender Tennessee Christmas”. Those boys from Alabama serenade us with “Christmas in Dixie.” Becky Hobbs will sing the song she penned, “Oklahoma Christmas”. The rest of us enjoy singing our favorite Christmas carols at church over the next few weeks, counting down to the day we celebrate the birth of Christ.
The song that will best describe me this year is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” . . . if only in my dreams. My husband and I established our home in rural Indiana shortly after tying the knot at Tulsa in 1988. Even though I am very happy here, Southwestern Oklahoma will always hold a special place in my heart. With that in mind, it’s time for another visit to the red dirt area of Altus – even if it’s only in my dreams. (Cue the wavy screen effect)
So, what is so special about Altus this time of year? Too many memories for me to recount here, instead let’s take a peek at some of the current Christmas celebrations happening this month.
Jimmy Geigle has organized the 3rd annual Toy Run for motorcyclist this year. It is scheduled to take place Saturday, December 1 at 12:30 pm. Riders from across the state will join the run with a parade escort to deliver toys to the Altus Fire Department. The toys will be distributed by the Salvation Army and DHS. Folks around Altus are generous to a fault, but it never ceases to amaze me when the pictures from the Toy Run are posted. Many of the motorcycles look like they are carrying the entire contents of Santa’s sleigh!
The annual Christmas Parade steps off from the parking lot of Western Oklahoma State College. on Sunday, December 2, at 3 p.m., Complete with a police escort, marching bands, floats, and of course, Santa’s grand arrival via Altus Fire Truck, the parade is a ton of fun for people of all ages. While the Altus Times reports this as the 32nd annual Christmas Parade, it has been going on for much longer. From watching it as a child, sometimes perched on Papa’s shoulders, to riding a motorcycle in the parade for several years during the 1970s, memories of the Christmas parade fill my mind with happiness untold.
Christmas would not be Christmas without cantatas and candle-lit services. Tabernacle Baptist Church will present a cantata on Sunday, December 16. Southside Baptist Church will share their cantata on Sunday morning, December 23. Emmanuel Baptist Church will celebrate the Reason for the Season with a candle-light service on Christmas Eve. A quick google search gave the above information – there are probably other churches in town with their own Christmas celebrations. Take time this season to remember that Christ’s birth is the reason for the season.
The Christmas lights of Altus shine brightly this time of year. Families and businesses deck the halls with many gorgeous displays, making a drive thru town at night a festive affair. Nothing, however, can top the “Christmas in the Park” display at the Altus City Park, located on East Broadway, between Park Lane and Park Avenue. The park becomes a magical mix of vision, love, labor and lights, a tradition that began around thirty years ago, with the vision of Sonny Tims and a handful of other longtime Altusans.
Rumors abound that this could be the last year for the lights, due to vandalism. Thanks to a handful of dedicated elves, this year’s show is now in progress nightly. Park your car or truck at the Altus High School parking lot, and take a stroll thru the park. Enjoy the work of the elves as you gaze at the lighted Christmas trees and animated displays while creating some new memories for you and your family.
Before or after enjoying these treats that Altus has to offer during December, take time to patronize some of the locally owned businesses and restaurants. Some favorite stops along the way are the Sunshine Café and Roberts’ Drive-In (which is now a sit-in diner) on East Broadway. The Grapevine Café or Benny’s Pizza & Mexican Restaurant on North main are also quite tasty. To finish off your shopping list, visit Petal Pushers, Scott Farms (for your “Made In Oklahoma” gifts) or the Sandyland Vineyard.
(Cue the wavy screen effect)
Looks like I have been off in dreamland way too long now. It is time to get bundled up, go outside and shovel some snow. Wonder if I’ll see some Christmas lights out there?