Every year our son will start his Christmas "Wish List" early. Really early-like May. This year he is asking Santa for some more Polar Express trains to go with the existing set. He's 5 so he doesn't yet know that "Santa" uses real money to buy these things. In this economy, "Santa" is forced to be a little frugal this year. Which means being financially creative.
I believe in magic and creating it for others. And I know that somehow, someway, I will make part of his dreams come true. He wants 6 additional train cars...he might get 2. Ebay will be my main shopping source this year as I have found some amazing deals there in the past. I am confident that he will be pleasantly surprised on Christmas morning.
I know that there are some families out there that don't like the commerical side of Christmas, but the truth is, I really do. I love the decorations, the colorful wrapping paper, the music and the food. The food, oh my the food! (But that's a whole other blog post). And I love a good Christmas story or movie that features all of it. I know that there is a spiritual side to this holiday, but I don't mind celebrating the jolly red guy and openly admit that I still believe. Beides, it's so much fun to just give in and believe in all of the wintery, sleigh bell magic.
And as I am writing this, I started thinking about what would be on my "Wish List" if I sat down to write one out. My husband and I stopped exchanging gifts about 16 years ago when we decided that instead, we would spend that money on a needy child and make their holiday brighter. We also made it a point to spend the holidays doing the very things that you see others doing on tv. Like baking cookies together, going caroling, sleigh rides and etc. Well, we live in California so the sleigh rides are out unless we go to Yosemite. But ok-you get the idea. Then we also took ourselves out of the family gift exchanges. You have no idea how much stress is taken off of you when you no longer have to shop for anyone except for your child. The joy of the season is the reward because you get it all back. Instead of shopping, we are out doing things-fun things and really feeling good about it all. I have to admit that I do miss buying for other people a little bit, but I don't miss being on the receiving end at all. So that brings me back to what I would wish for.
So here it goes, in no particular order and as if I had actually won the big Lotto:
1. A sleigh ride in Yosemite through the forest with all the trimmings including the beautiful red blanket, jingle bells and a thermos of hot cocoa with marshmallows on the side. I would be wearing a fabulous hat and super cute boots to match. My husband and son would also be wearing something right out of the LL Bean catalog. Stay at the Tenya Lodge for a couple of nights in one of their cozy suites with a fireplace.
2. Fly down to LAX, take the Amtrak train to San Diego, Sea World. Visit the "Polar Express Experience"-it looks fabulous-and spend the day at Sea World. Then take the evening train back to LAX and take a shuttle to Disneyland. Spend at least 3 full days there....it would be our son's 2nd trip. Buy a churro and a corn dog while at Disneyland.....a true guilty pleasure.
3. Go ice skating at the Snoopy Ice Arena and get hot cocoa at the Warm Puppy Cafe. (I love hot cocoa, can you tell?)
3. See a fun new holiday movie that won't freak my kid out in a real movie theater.
4. Go to Sacramento to see The Polar Express on IMAX. Our son has never seen it on the big screen.
5. Visit Santa Cruz for a few days to take the Roaring Camp Railroad ride and watch the whales.
6. Buy some really great fleece to make a new warm jacket for myself with mathcing mittens and hats for all three of us.
7. Go to Costo and buy a ton of yummy muffins and OJ and deliver them to local businesses and say "thanks for still being here!"
8. String my red SUV with Christmas lights, write "Santa's Sleigh" and "Ho Ho Ho" on the side windows with white paint and put a Reindeer kit on. Stock the console with Christmas CD's. (This one I might actually be able to do).
9. Take my husband and son out for a fabulous day of fun in San Francisco. Ride the trolly car, eat lunch at the Cheesecake Factory on Union Square, take a holiday lights tour and pick out a special Christmas ornament.
10. Go caroling with a group of people who can actually sing and have a good time. Afterwards gather at a fabulously decorated place and be served pumpkin pie.
11. Host a blind rootbeer, creme soda and hot chocolate tasting. For kids and adults alike.
12. Stop and visit the guy/gal on the side of the road selling oranges. Offer to buy the whole lot and have them deliver it all to the local food bank.
13. Purchase and give 2 brand new vans to my husband's work so they can take the kids on more field trips in the poor weather months.
14. Give my son's teachers a pre paid $500 Visa card and make it annoymous so they wouldn't have to claim it as income.
I think I will stop there...for now. The truth is that I can keep going on but the list is taking on my life's goals now. Also, my lunch is ready and I need to get busy and TIVO every holiday movie on the Hallmark channel that is airing for the next two weeks. Priorities you know.
The Train Show was a big success and everyone loved the costumes! Time has really flown by since then and we have been really busy filling orders and replenishing stock. Halloween sales were amazing and we worked right up until the last minute shipping orders all over the USA to arrive just in time for the 31st.
Now we are getting ready for Christmas and that means making plans. One year, when we were really broke, my husband came up with the idea to do something fun for the holidays. Almost everyday in December, he had planned a "Christmasy" activity that we would do after work. I remember with great fondness one particular night where we went to the indoor mall and had a turkey dinner in a buffet style restaurant. The dinner was horrible, but the atmosphere was cozy and the company was delightful. Afterwards, we strolled the mall and visited Hallmark to look at all of the ornaments. Other nights we went to the Junior College Planetarium and sat in on a free "Christmas Sky" show, drove around lo0king at Christmas lights while drinking hot cocoa and made Christmas cards. I remember that year more than when we took expensive trips to Hawaii and Orlando.
So when my husband suggested that we try something similar this year, I became very excited and can't wait to start making plans. It's a little more challenging now because we have a child and his needs to consider so that means no late nights during the school week. So that means loading up the weekends with the local trips and planning indoor festivities during the weeknights. First things first. We have to make & decorate an over-sized calendar with plenty of room for writing in activities. That means I have to look around for craft supplies....something that our son can through in an instant. Wish me luck!
What are your plans for this Holiday Season?