Thursday, December 22, 2011

The nights before Christmas

I love traditions.
Especially good ones.
I grew up with them and even if we don't practice all of those particular traditions I still think back and fondly remember the "sameness" of each year.
There is something about anticipation and knowing what to expect each year that brings warm feelings to mind and spirit.

I have started many traditions, especially at Christmas, for my own little pack of humans.
From the time they were wee small tikes we have "rung in Christmas" and ate similar foods and looked through stockings at a certain time and opened pj's at another. We have read the Christmas story and I have a nativity set they have played with. We sing the same songs and eat the same favorite candies.

Including new things is also fun..
So several years ago, the year the "polar express" movie came out a blog showed how they surprised their kids with their own version of it..And I thought what a great tradition to start.
The kids loved it.
And we enjoyed surprising them.
You can read it here. Mini-van Express

However, some traditions won't work forever.
I figured the older ones were probably over that whole thing.

My 12 year old told me that he was writing a paper about our family traditions at Christmas. He could only pick one.
Of course it made me curious which one he would choose to write on and to my amazement it was the polar express ride.

That made my mind start churning as to what we could do that would bring surprise and excitement to our teens and the little one all at the same time.

And this idea popped into my head.
How about a progressive supper?
We could dress in Pj's... take a ride in the van ... collect our favorite dishes from some of our favorite restaurants .. and gas stations...and eat it all at the food court. After that we could Finish it up with some donuts from our favorite donut shop and look at this cool subdivision that specifically invites us to come see the lights.

So the fun began...

The kids unwrapped their unmarked packages.
(I hardly ever write names on their gifts...that way they don't know which one to shake..sneeky me:)
I kidded with them and told them to choose their package wisely because they have to wear whatever gift they open! Ha! They didn't fall for it.

So they opened their gifts and Jason and I told them to go get in the van..we're going for a ride.
It was fun to hear all the guesses of where we may be headed.. Movies, lights, donuts...
Notice the fear in some of their eyes...
Making them wear pj's in public. We kept reminding them it was fine for tonight.

Our first stop was a gas station.
"Everyone pile out and pick out any drink"

Frozen Mt. Dew and Black Cherry.
Big sis chose a coffee drink.
A coke.

Stop #2.. One of my favorite places to eat.

A classy joint where I was no doubt out of place in my under-dressed attire.

Some Bang-Bang shrimp for an appetizer.
I've made this at home for the kids but they had never had it from the Restaurant.

We had ordered these items ahead of time so we could just run in and get them.

Stop #3
Papa Vino's.
The girls retrieved the salad from another favorite place.

And since we haven't been here for awhile we did not realize they had changed the take out counter to the back of the restaurant so they had to walk through the entire place for it :~)

I got a text...

"Take out is at the back... Thanks alot!" ~Malaina
They were good sports! And we laughed about it.

Stop #4

Then the boys gathered our fries from "Five Guys".

They even got to eat peanuts inside while they waited.
People were trying to get in the picture with them. We laughed as they posed from all sides.

Stop #5
And then we went to the food court where we let them pick out their favorite entree...
Pizza for the little one.
Subs for the boys.
And Chick-Fil-a for Sophomore.

Jason and I thought we would start with salad and bang bang and see if we were still hungry.

The best salad ever!!

And thank you five guys for your fries.

The kids ate the bang bang right up! I think I got 2 :)
Here we are at the food court.

And finally our last food stop..... Stop #6
Krispy Kreme!!!
Where the "HOT NOW" light was on!!
Which meant 6 free donuts for us!!

And we found some matching strangers who were also pj clad.

We watched the donuts go through the fountain of frosting.
Funny guy thought he should lie down on the belt and stick out his tongue hoping to coat it like a pastry.

And the beautiful gems that melt in your mouth when they are straight from the oven.

Here are some of us looking mighty pleased with our sugar rush!

And some who started acting strange after all the sugar...
He thought maybe they wouldn't recognize him at the counter if he did this..talked in a funny voice,and asked for another free donut :) we laughed alot.

Side note... those are his wrists. They look a little double jointed don't ya think?

And finally saying goodbye to a fun night.

We went to look at lights and while we did that listened to a a Christmas story from the Inn Keepers point of view.
We got home and curled up on the couch for some movies.

I think this may be one of those traditions that we will try to do each year.
The element of Surprise may not be there but the anticipation of what's coming will be fun.

Being with these guys is the best Christmas gift I could ask for!


  1. What fun! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  2. Kathy thanks so much!!!! Merry Christmas to you as well!! I am so looking forward to meeting you in real life!

  3. Looks like so much fun ROSE!!! I'll have to remember that little idea for when cabin fever sets in! :) <3 you! Heather


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