We just came back from a trip down south, to Connecticut. I grew up there and my parents and some siblings and other relatives live there, so we visited for our second Christmas. Every year my parents host Christmas the weekend after the “real” Christmas. This has several benefits:
1. Those of us with various family wings can worry less about the conflict of who to see. In our house we have decided that Christmas Day we do not travel. We stay at home, share gifts, have a fine dinner and play. We do not, however, have to worry about a long drive, so Christmas Eve we can see my in-laws.
2. Those of us who work where there are no true holidays (my mother and brother work for a nursing home) can offer to work so someone else can take the day off. This feels pretty good and is a great gift.
3. We can do things for others. My sister, for example, volunteered at a homeless shelter on Christmas.
4. If we have procrastinated, and we have enough of a buffer, we can get some steals on post-holiday sales.
I admit that I have not taken advantage of this last one, but still, it could happen.
We had a good long day for our second Christmas. It felt like a major bonus for our children who got more gifts from Santa and all their various relatives on my side of the family. We ate together and laughed and had a generally grand time. Three of my four siblings were there (the other lives on the west coast) so it was a full house.
But wait, there’s more. On Sunday we made another full day of it. We took the children to the museums in Springfield, Massachusetts, just over the state line. Somehow we managed to hit it right and got to wander the science museum just before a puppet show began. It was put on by a traveling performance group and was targeted at children. It was a hit. We had time to check out the Dr. Seuss sculptures (he was born and lived in Springfield) one more time before heading home.
We had some time before heading out to Friendly’s for dinner. This was a treat for the children, really. They got to eat french fries AND ice cream sundaes. What could be better? It was actually the same establishment where I had my first paycheck job (I had paper routes before that), flipping burgers and manning the frialator. Ah, the times I remembered.
Then, the finale to the day, we went to the Connecticut Trolley Museum for their winter fest event. The place was decked out in holiday lights, including lights across all the power poles on the trolley lines. Four trolleys ran the out and back route, under the lights. It looked like a tunnel of color in the darkness. When they switched the power pole on top of the trolley to go from one direction to the other, we were all in the dark. No one working said anything about this, at least not right away, so everyone was quiet. It was peaceful, fitting for the season.
My son was a huge fan of the exhibit hall, where two trolleys are indoors and a dozen or so electric train and trolley sets zoom in their loops. There were trains of all sizes and they were dressed in holiday garb. One train looped through Santa’s village with elves and snow and workshops and all. Sure, I was pretty into it as well. And it was festive. A woman with a guitar sang carols, lights decked the hall, and several Christmas trees glowed in the corners. There were kids all about and everyone seemed to be having a blast.
Back home today, after a long drive, we have to settle into post-Christmas. We have some things to put away, some things to assemble, and some things to recycle. We have a task list for the rest of our holiday break, and some good friends on the way in a couple of days. Lots to do, lots to enjoy, lots to think about. Both Christmases were as good as they get. And two is enough.