This year as part of our minimalizing our stuff project, Matt and I decided to buy a few experiences instead of a lot of gifts. I stumbled across a Polar Express train ride just 30 minutes from our home. Madeleine is obsessed with trains, and I thought that would be a great birthday gift for our December baby. On top of that, the Polar Express is one of my favorite children's Christmas books.
|This is what the groupon photo looked like|
We had been to the town that it was in before - New Hope, Pennsylvania, but it was all lit up for Christmas and was so pretty. The train station was in the middle of all the shops. We could see a children's museum right across the tracks that we're going to have to visit soon. Just like the book, we dressed Madeleine up in pjs and a coat. It was cold, but Madeleine kept herself warm by running up and down the station. At one point she found a broken carousal horse and rode on it for a bit.
Right around 8:15, we heard a train whistle in the distance. Everyone ran to the tracks and cheered as the train came. I think my favorite part of the night was watching Madeleine's face as she saw the train. She was so excited and kept saying "Choo, choo!" over and over again.
The trains are restored 1920's steam trains. The lighting was so dark and there was only space heaters for heating, but none the less, it was really cool! Everything was decked out for Christmas.
We got on the last car on the train, but for some reason Santa and Mrs. Clause visited our train first. Madeleine isn't a fan of Santa. She'll only look at the Santa area at the mall from the second floor. She loves the lights but not the man. So when this poor Santa finally made it to our bench, Madeleine crossed her arms and glared at him. There was a free photo with Santa as part of the package, but we just told him we'd pass on that. Mrs. Clause slipped us a bell in a red bag and told us to ring it on Christmas. Believe me though, that thing has been ringing all the time since we got it.
The rest of the night went much better. A local guitar player came and sang Christmas songs with the kids, while the elves passed out cookies. The older kids in our car were really into it and kept the songs going most of the ride.
|Not sure about the hot chocolate|
One of the last visitors on the train was the ticket master. It was pretty official. He punched our cards and everything.
Shortly after he stopped by, Madeleine discovered that her window could open. She spent the last bit of the train ride with her head or hand out the window. Right before the ride was over though, she strolled down the aisle saying hi to everyone. Even though the train only went 20 miles hour, she was remarkably steady.
She fell asleep a few minutes after we put her in the car, and Matt and I both think it was pretty successful. She was so happy.