Every year since forever, also known as since we had kids, we have taken the boys to the local mall to have overpriced photos made with Santa. $39.99 for two 5x7s and a keepsake ornament? Don't mind if I do. After all, they need to see Santa, right? RIGHT?
Anyway, this year we decided to take a totally different approach. We had heard about a train ride about 45 minutes from our house where Santa visits with all the children ON THE TRAIN and hot chocolate and cookies are served and it's all magical and fabulous and OMG JUST BY MENTIONING IT I CAN FEEL THE CHRISTMAS JOY IN THE AIR!!!
I pictured gently falling snow as the train whizzed by wonderful landscapes and the occasional fabulously decorated houses. I pictured lovely decor that would make an excellent backdrop for all the photos I would get to take, and pictured a magical afternoon that we would all treasure in our memories forever.
We paid the equivalent of a black market kidney for the opportunity (mine's still for sale, by the way - message me if interested) and kept it a big secret from the boys.
Finally the day arrived. We pumped the boys up with vague statements about grand adventures, then we drove and drove though twisty and turning back roads for what seemed like forever before coming up on the train station in the middle of nowhere.
They were delighted.
We picked up our tickets, waited a REALLY long time to use the ONE restroom, and then boarded the train.
Maybe all the "THERE ARE NO RESTROOMS AVAILABLE ON THE TRAIN!!!" signs, coupled with all the screaming children should have tipped me off, but I remained oblivious until we stepped into the car.
The smell of... something was so strong that my first instinct was to turn around. I looked at R and said "Do you smell that?" Of course he did, by the way. You could not miss it. It wasn't until we were seated and I was looking around that it occurred to me. All these children - and all the children before them, and all the children before them - probably had to pee somewhere, and it was likely that they had to pee while sitting in my seat.
The boys didn't really seem to notice or care. As the car filled up, another strange phenomenon happened. Every single child - EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. - in our car was screaming. Not just a gentle cry or an occasional loud shriek about something - no, they were all FLAT OUT SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER. I looked at our boys who had just been reprimanded for fidgeting too much, looked at R and said "Sometimes we need to go places like this just to put it into perspective how good our kids really are, don't we? Fidget away, boys, fidget away."
And seriously, even after the rocky start I still expected something magical to happen.
Spoiler alert!!! It didn't.
Oh it was fine (aside from the pee smell and screaming. SO. MUCH. SCREAMING.).
The train itself went sssllloooooowwwwwwllllllyyyy through a lot of back yards and past some really muddy fields. We did get to see a lot of old cars on blocks that we commented on, so that was fun.
The boys got hot chocolate and cookies.
Mrs. Claus came through first and totally botched the words to Frosty the Snowman. You would think that would be part of the training, right? Santa came next and the boys got to visit with him and let their Christmas wishes be known, and I got to snap two blurry pics and one where Zack was looking at something else entirely. Whatever. It's probably still not as bad as the year I had to Photoshop Cooper in the picture.
Scary upright Rudolph was next, and my kids weren't having anything AT ALL to do with him. See?
Emaciated Frosty rounded out the Fab Christmas Four, and soon enough we were on our way back to the train station.
I know I set myself up for failure when I have some sort of ideal "moment" in my head. Any time you add kids into any scenario, chances of ideal are pretty slim.
But the pee smell? I totally wasn't counting on that.
After we escaped, I looked at R and said "Well, now we know," and he repeated "Now we know."
Next year, it's back to mall Santa for us.
He usually only smells like gin, and where I'm coming from, that's a HUGE step up.
This week's prompt: