Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Polar Express

The Polar Express is one of my absolute favorite Christmas stories.

When we were kids, my mom read it to us over and over again during the month of December, and I was absolutely thrilled when the movie came out in 2004 and completely exceeded my expectations.

Needless to say, I was super excited when I learned that the Mt. Rainier Railroad now brings the magic of The Polar Express to life! I immediately contacted my sister to see if she was interested in taking the kids. We booked tickets for the weekend after Christmas, and I promptly pulled out my copy of Chris Van Allsburg's classic tale to start reading to Ryder. 

By the last page, I was literally in tears.
Thanks, pregnancy hormones... 

"At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe." 

All month long we looked forward to heading down to Elbe, Washington to meet up with my parents and my sister's family for what we hoped would be a truly magical Christmas journey to the North Pole.

You guys... It was amazing!

First of all, the Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum is super cute. Ryder absolutely LOVES trains, so he was in heaven running around the platform and checking out the vintage steam engine and all the train cars while we waited for our turn to climb on board. 

Once the journey began, we were entertained by cheerful chefs who walked around reading a large-scale copy of the book to the kiddos, followed by dancing, singing, and of course serving us delicious hot chocolate and cookies, just like in the story. After a beautiful ride through the snowy wonderland of Mt. Rainier, we arrived at the North Pole, where Santa boarded the train to give each child the first gift of Christmas (a silver bell). 

Then, on the journey back, the servers led a Christmas caroling sing-along that included the kids dancing up and down the aisles of the train.

Sophia, Aubrey, and Ryder were absolutely enchanted by the entire experience. Ryder's delight as he looked out the window of the train and exclaimed at everything he saw was pretty much the best Christmas present ever. And frankly, I was pretty impressed, myself. I thought the entire production was extremely well-done, and definitely worth the extra money we paid for our first class tickets (which also included beautiful souvenir Christmas mugs for each of us). 

I think we may need to make The Polar Express an annual tradition for the whole family!

Afterward, we headed back to my parents' house to exchange gifts (yes, at this point we were on at least our third Christmas celebration!)

Ryder's like, "Seriously Mom, MORE pictures?!"

My favorite part of the whole experience was seeing Ryder play and interact with his cousins. He was so thrilled to have other kiddos to spend time with; it was just adorable. 

Perhaps he needs a sibling?

As the year and the holiday season draws to a close, I sure hope that your experiences were as magical and memorable as ours.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

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  1. This seriously looks SO cool!!! What a fun family activity!! Love the pajamas too!!!

  2. I'm so glad you guys had a great time!! We went on that train a few years ago for Christmas and we did NOT have the same positive experience. We have been going to the one in North Bend and love it, but now reading your recount of the Elbe train we might need to give it another go.

  3. How wonderful...making great memories! You all look so festive in your pjs - what happened to your Dads - ha!!!

    1. Thank you! We tried to make my dad cooperate but I guess he was being a Scrooge about wearing jammies in public, LOL.


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