I am going to go ahead and start you off with the COOLEST lights of the whole evening. (See moving image above…obviously.) Not only were the bridge’s speakers blaring TSO’s best (a major bonus in my book), the lights were seemingly dancing along. Which, of course, led to some interpretive Christmas dancing (more accurately bouncing…) of our own. Sorry, I don’t have a video of that – our littlest buddy was really feeling it!
My oldest buddy is an all things history kid. Conner Prairie has been on our list of local-ish places to make it to for quite sometime. Not sure where the year went… Why settle for defeat when we can end this (quite tricky!) year with a bang? Plus, we like to try out different light shows and holiday experiences anyway! I had seen pictures of the Polar Plunge sled run and knew this would be a surefire hit with the kiddos. So that’s where we started. And…because rain was looming so we figured we’d hit the open-air play spots first.
I also learned there was going to be a new sock-skating rink this year. It was small but slick, it did the trick!
But, it was the promise of stories that sold me and goodness were we storied! The picture below of the “Night Before Christmas” story/movie/experience is just not going to do it justice. We all were hooked from the first word. The charming vignettes played out a story I never knew I really wanted to see. Like many others, we love the original book. It’s part or our family’s Christmas Eve tradition so it felt very personal. Like the magic was orchestrated just for us!
Even though “The Night Before Christmas” show was brilliant. The most delightful time of the entire evening was our stop at the scrolling shadow puppet-ish show seen below.
It topped the 1836 characters spattering us with oldy-timey tidings and fun factoids…like the savory cow-tongue pie reserved for special occasions. (They sure make it look lovely!)
It topped the carols sung in Latin that (quite surprisingly!) these raised Catholic (mostly heathen) parents still had tucked away somewhere in our memory banks…to our kids’ chagrin.
This tiny little story flew our protagonist all the way around the world in all of 10 minutes enlightening us the many ways a smattering of countries celebrate their winter holidays. We appreciated the inclusion of Hanukah and the stories of St. Lucia, St. Nicholas & Belsnickel landed with some recall so we could share a bit more with the kids. There were many others that were equally as intriguing like the Christmas Junkanoo from the Bahamas that require some additional digging. The performers were comedic, personable, and oh so engaging. They had the entire audience singing along feeling both sad and gleeful when the tiny show ended. That same feeling you get leaving after visiting very close friends.
Stuck in the mud?
Personally, I am not really a fan of the static Christmas light displays…just in general. There are mostly static Christmas light displays, it was all good! They made traveling from playspace to story time a bit more enchanting. Plus…photo ops, obvs! Music helps and there were plenty of jolly jams. Blitzen’s Bandstand had a pair of live musicians doing their thing like proper rockstars while we snacked. Speaking of snacking…
Did you grub?
We had Thanksgiving meal #2 before heading to Conner Prairie so food was just for fun. Candied nuts, Kettle Corn and the jumbo pretzels were all quite tempting… As I said before, we really enjoyed the live music near warm fires to stay toasty and jolly while sipping on the playfully clever adult beverages. (Photo snapped for future holiday party inspiration!)
If you needed to find us this evening, all you need do was follow the bits of popcorn pretty much throughout the pavilion. I’d like to say that we were getting a head start on reindeer feeding, but we are really just quite messy, and enjoy being outside where our litter footprint ends up being bird food.
What did we dig the most?
On a professional note as a children’s museum programmer person, I am always paying close attention to Santa experiences and taking mental notes on what works well for other places. There was an elf stationed before “Selfies with Santa” that was a bit sassy, true to the mischievous elf form. I don’t want to give away any top secret information but let me just say that one kid walked away with a big smile and the other one with a playfully suspicious look and a note to Santa that he WOULD NOT let me see. I suppose there’s a first for everything!
Our buddies are getting older. These moments of holiday wonder and magic…the traditions specific to our very own little family unit, this is our wealth. Being out amidst other families, most clamoring onto the YOLOness of the experience, it sets my personal gratitude front and center. We love to celebrate! There’s also the prompting of my fatalistic self… The part of me that really tries to bring up that sinking feeling that at any moment the other shoe could drop…just in general. It’s there. It’s a work in progress to keep it quiet. Good news? It doesn’t slow me down! Bad news? It sometimes speeds me up. Feeling from the depths of our spirit that maybe we only have today. It’s not always going to be good…but when it is…let’s celebrate! That’s the take away. That’s the seed. Celebrate the small stuff. There’s always more good than bad around. Holidays are a great time to tune those focusing skills and seek it out the celebrations…even if it’s only a pajama party with your nearest and dearest on the couch eating leftovers and watching that Christmas movie that you’ve watched a million times before just one more time.
Here are the up to date details. Have fun!