By Amanda LaMora
As the days of late autumn begin to sputter like a candle going out, the night unfurls, blanketing our waking hours in a cozy quiet. Christmas is on the horizon, and the ache to wrap ourselves in familiar comforts burns within us like a winter hearth.
Christmas traditions do more than bring us peace. They ground us to our roots, illuminating the millennia of love and warmth shared through generations. With every sip of cocoa, every carol sung, every bow tied in its place, we echo the movements and the hope of those who came before. It’s no wonder this time of year is so focused on family.
Every family has their own traditions, though many are shared among us. Here are our top five places to live out this year’s Christmas traditions for a season of peace, joy and comfort with your loved ones.
1. Red Barn Christmas Tree Farm | McAlester, OK
Open seasonally from Thanksgiving Day through December 21, Red Barn Christmas Tree Farm in McAlester is the perfect place for a family day trip to pick out your beloved Christmas tree. Choose and cut your own Virginia Pine and White Pine trees, purchase a pre-cut tree or visit the barn for Fraser Firs. Stop by the gift shop for a dazzling assortment of ornaments and ribbons to trim your tree, and be sure to stock up on live wreaths, garland and centerpieces to bring your whole house together.
This homegrown family farm doesn’t have a website, but if you call the number below and speak to Betty, the incredibly kind proprietor, she’ll be more than happy to answer any questions and provide additional directions, if needed.
2552 S. Brewer Rd., McAlester, OK, 74501
Monday & Tuesday | Closed
Wednesday – Friday | 1-5pm
Saturday | 10am-5pm
Sunday | 1-5pm
2. Lights on the Island | Poteau, OK
Is there anything more festive than taking in the lights from the comfort of a lighted carriage ride? Bring your blankets and your thermos to Quarry Island at Lake Wister State Park for Lights on the Island. This highly anticipated, annual event just gets bigger and brighter every year, featuring thousands of multi-colored lights across larger-than-life displays, some of which are animated, plus photo ops, candy canes and even an appearance from Santa later in the month. Book a stay at one of the park’s cozy cabins and make a weekend of it.
3. Christmas In the Park | Tuskahoma, OK
Visit the Choctaw Nation Capitol Grounds in Tuskahoma for Christmas In the Park – a magical, drive-through display of lights offering fun for the whole family. It takes place annually throughout the month of December, but if you visit the first three weekends in December, you’ll be treated to complimentary cocoa and Christmas ornament giveaways. In the true spirit of the season, admission is always free!
4. Holly Jolly Stroll | Talihina, OK
If you’re into vintage vibes, antiquing and nostalgia, then the Holly Jolly Stroll in Talihina was made with you in mind. Join us December 8 amidst the stunning scenery of this quaint mountain town for a festive stroll through the historic downtown area. Local businesses keep the festivities rolling with complimentary hot chocolate, apple cider, cookies and more to enjoy while you shop. This beautiful evening culminates with the town’s Christmas tree lighting. Get the most out of your visit with a weekend stay at Hootie Creek Guest House – a historic landmark offering beautiful rooms with old-time charm.
5. Holiday in the Ark | Hugo, OK
This one may not be traditional, but it could certainly become a new tradition in your family. If you’re searching for something out of the box, Holiday in the Ark delivers. Each year, the Endangered Ark Foundation – a sanctuary for retired circus elephants – hosts an enchanting holiday experience with the elephants on their ranch, including elephant feeding and interactions, immersive Christmas-themed lands, pony and train rides, photo ops with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and so much more. Get your tickets now and treat your family to this unique holiday celebration!