, , , ,



Over the River and Through the Woods

A Holiday Tradition with Donna Alice Patton


Over the river and through the woods . . . to the big city we go!!

As a country girl at heart, it’s not often you’ll find me in any city. . .  except at Christmas. Once a year, my family (whoever can come on a certain date) follow a tradition Grandpa Corbin began over forty years ago. We meet in downtown Cincinnati to welcome in the season with a little holiday sightseeing.

When we went with Grandpa, the main objective was to watch the lighting of the gigantic Christmas tree on Fountain Square. Now our trip has evolved more to Sunday afternoon family time.

Our first order of business is always taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city.

christmas 2013 005

The carriage ride in downtown Cincinnati

True, the lights aren’t on during the day, but we can see the store windows with clever decorations. Sometimes we sing “Jingle Bells” and wave at people passing by. More often it becomes a time of sharing family stories. Many of my grandparents and great-grandparents left the farms in Kentucky to settle in Cincinnati. The carriage ride is a way to ‘tour’ some of the places relevant to our family’s lives. Our younger members – rural kids every one – find it unbelievable that people could LIVE eight stories up as their great-grandma did.

Next stop is our traditional visit to the Westin Hotel. Every year they put up a decorated Christmas tree in the lobby, complete with Santa and eight flying reindeer.  We gather in front of the white picket fence for photo ops, and then ride the escalators (a real novelty) to the second floor. The Westin advertises Cincinnati Theater’s play of “A Christmas Carol” with life-sized figures in clever, Christmas decorations. It’s fun to stand by Scrooge or Tiny Tim, take pictures and pretend to be part of Dickens’ classic tale.


Then it’s on to Macy’s. In a rural area where we waited ten years to have Wal-Mart, a real department store is a novelty. The little girls adore the perfume counter with all the free samples. The Santa-believers in the bunch love the department store Santa. If the line is reasonable, we wait for the littlest family members to share their wishes with the Jolly One.

After Macy’s, we might head off to Eden Park and the live Nativity, or maybe to explore a new part of the city. Weather permitting; we stop at Fountain Square for some ice skating on the seasonal rink. If it’s too cold, we may all end up somewhere warm and cozy for hot chocolate. Although it might seem uneventful to many people, our Christmas City Day has become a cherished tradition. It’s a time to celebrate the holidays, our family and a way to share memories with the younger generation. Somehow, I think Grandpa would be happy to know what he started.


About the Author

Donna Alice PattonDonna Alice Patton is a freelance writer and editor who lives in rural Ohio. Christmas is one of her favorite times of the year – even with the necessity of keeping the wood stove filled! Reading books with a Christmas theme is a favorite activity for any season of the year. Visit her at her Amazon Author page.