Last Saturday we finally put our Christmas tree up! The stockings are hung and decorations out. The tree went up while the girls were sleeping but waited for them to put ornaments on. As we pulled the ornaments out to put on the tree we shared the stories behind each ornament, just as I did each year when I was young (actually still do it today when decorating my parents' tree).
The most memorable ornament is the sleigh bell Julianna was given from Santa Clause on her first Christmas on the Polar Express ride. For those that read the book The Polar Express will be able to understand my overwhelming excitement each year we ride the train. Every year since 2007, California State Railroad Museum puts on an elaborate show to recreate the story written by Chris Van Allsburg. The Sacramento train station is filled with adults becoming children again along side their own children all eager to experience the Christmas spirit. The children are dressed in their pajamas ready to ride to the North Pole.
Once aboard the train you are served hot chocolate and cookies by genuine dancing waitstaff while the soundtrack is playing in the background. The train is slowly riding down the tracks and you hear the story read outloud. Alas you arrive at the North Pole, then you get the chance to meet Santa Clause. Santa will ask if you believe and hand you the authentic sleigh bell, the first gift of Christmas.
Immediately I ring the bell checking that I can still hear the ring of Santa's sleigh bell.
Julianna has been ringing the bells from the tree whispering to herself, "I believe." She can still hear the ring from Santa's sleigh too.
I love experiencing life again through the innocence of my children; this must be what Christmas is really about.