The year my two kids were 7 & 11 years old (and still believed in Santa), it hit me that the time was coming soon when the magic would change. I desperately wanted to savour every Christmas moment together as a family. After watching The Polar Express movie, I hatched a crazy night time plan: to take our two kids on our very own middle of the night “train ride".
Wow, was it ever fun to wake them up in their beds and hand them their own Polar Express tickets!
I had initially gotten the idea to make our own Polar Express ride from a mom friend who chuckled about how she & her husband would pile their kids into their "Polar Express", also known as the family minivan, to go look at decorated houses and Christmas lights at night as a cheap and cheerful holiday activity. That was a tradition we had, too! But now it was time to take it up a notch...
I put her homemade train idea and our light tour tradition together, and with a little preparation, we had an incredible Christmas memory.
We watched the Polar Express movie after an early dinner, and went to bed as usual. I tried to time it so they would be asleep slightly earlier than usual. About 45 minutes after they were both solidly asleep, I flew into action: I made hot chocolate for all four us in our traveling mugs, which I put in the car. My husband played the movie’s train-approaching music from the Polar Express soundtrack and I had the 2 golden tickets I had made earlier with my colour printer ready.
Then I started calling, “ALL ABOARD!” outside their bedrooms.
They woke up so incredibly confused! I said, "Can you hear that? It's a train, are you coming?!!" and handed each of them their ticket while ushering them downstairs to put on their boots and coats over their pajamas. I announced that the Steyns family Polar Express was outside waiting (with dad), and we were off to look at holiday LIGHTS and have hot chocolate (admittedly, the hot chocolate was probably the clincher). The grins on their faces were ear to ear. Once the confusion wore off, they were super excited to be heading off on a surprise family adventure in the dark!
Being a parent at Christmastime allows me to experience the wonder-filled days leading up to Christmas, singing songs, reading books together and watching movies through my kids’ eyes. Going out and seeing all the holiday light displays around town is now a yearly family activity and a tradition my kids will remember, and cherish too.
I’m sure you can recall your own family’s little traditions and unique holiday memories. Have you ever turned a favourite movie into real life?
Merry Christmas, we are off to pop some popcorn and watch more holiday movies this weekend!
xox Lee Ann
In American Sign Language, or ASL, there is more than one way to sign LIGHTS:
To sign LIGHTS in general, with middle finger tucked into thumb, flick at your chin, like you're indicating the light bursting out.
To sign LIGHTS as in overhead lighting, one hand starts up high with fingertips closed to thumb, them fingers open up at the same time, like a light coming on.