My family of 12 was once referred to as “a small country.” Growing up in a four-bedroom house in Houston with six sisters, four brothers, and two parents fostered close ties among my siblings. Our adult lives took us on different paths and to different places, so in the 1980s, I proposed our first “Sisters’ Getaway,” a weekend escape for us to get together in a small Texas town.

Round Top is in Fayette County, 16 miles northeast of La Grange. For lodging and events information, call the Round Top Area Chamber of Commerce at 888/368-4783.

Thirty years later, the tradition continues, usually scheduled during the first weekend in December when the towns of Texas come alive with twinkling lights, Christmas strolls, and colorful markets filled with one-of-a-kind arts and crafts. It would be tough to find a town that fits this description better than the destination we chose last year: Round Top.

With four sisters living in Austin and two in Houston, Round Top made a sensible meeting point for our getaway. Plus, Round Top is known for its antiques fairs, festive holiday offerings, and accommodations for weekend travelers. Arriving on a Friday afternoon, we checked into the Round Top Inn, a bed-and-breakfast with country chic furnishings and tasty breakfasts of Mediterranean sandwiches and crème brûlée French toast with mixed berries. Located three blocks from downtown’s Henkel Square, the inn made a convenient home base for exploring Round Top’s shopping and dining spots.

Friday evening, we bundled up and walked next door to Scotty & Friends Restaurant for a casual dinner of dishes like fried catfish, salads, and turkey burgers, along with those southern favorites—fried green tomatoes. Plastic checked tablecloths, brightly colored walls of red and yellow, and friendly service provided a warm atmosphere on an extremely cold night.

Traditionally, Saturdays mean a leisurely stroll around the downtown square of our host hamlet, browsing shelves stuffed with antiques or discovering delicately crafted clothing accessories. Round Top’s Henkel Square Market is home to seven shops to peruse for perfect holiday gifts. (Across the street, Bybee Square also has seven stores.) My favorites included Lizzie Lou, an eclectic shop with an array of religious icons, colorful hats, and handmade artwork. I loved the folk-art dolls from the Ozark Mountains and snatched up the sole cloth monkey for my daughter’s collection. As we stepped into the Blue Door Décor, a delicious spicy aroma filled the log cabin building. An employee enticed us to stay and shop with a cup of wassail, and we checked out the candlesticks made from found items and lamps made from antiques, as well as vintage furniture, pillows, aprons, and “wearable art” necklaces.

Restaurants around the square offer cuisine ranging from pizza to Mexican food, but we opted for lunch at the renowned Royers Round Top Cafe, a country kitchen that serves “gourmet comfort food.” I enjoyed a burger with hand-cut fries, while my sister Kelly sampled the stuffed jalapeños.

Our final stop for the afternoon was the Junk Gypsy headquarters store, set in a 7,000-square-foot, barn-like building about a mile south of downtown on Texas 237. Opened by the Sikes family, including sisters Amie and Jolie—flea-market mavens and stars of the reality show Junk Gypsies—the store includes a mix of merchandise that evokes cowgirl, rock-and-roll, and glamour styles. We were in junk heaven with the selection of “prairie meets boho” clothing, vintage boots, and funky home accessories.

We hunkered down Saturday evening to fix a potluck dinner in the Round Top Inn’s large kitchen. Afterward, we settled into overstuffed chairs and cozy couch pillows to write about our childhood Christmas memories. The exercise provided lots of laughter and tears, and a peek into how differently each of us remembered a past family event.

New insights about my sisters always come during these getaways. Round Top, with its intimate and welcoming spirit, proved to be the perfect setting to bring family closer together, especially during the holiday season.

From the December 2014 issue

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