A little midstate magic
As though she was conducting her own little symphony, Cienna’s fleece-covered arms flailed about in the backseat of our Jeep Grand Cherokee.
She listed myriad giggle-inducing thrills she had to find during a Saturday trip to Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane: The Claw, Tilt-O-Whirl, games, Smores and the man in red.
A sunny, 54-degree November day, and the harmony of instrumental Christmas music echoing from the carousel, provided the perfect backdrop to help those wishes come true.
With three kids and two paternal grandparents in tow, we found charm and holiday spirit in the midstate. Lights in various shapes and colors hung from trees, food pavilions and other structures, with nary a corner or gate left undecorated. Live Christmas trees were potted throughout the park, and artificial ones were topped with Hershey Kisses, appealing to the part of my soul that firmly believes it’s never too early for a tree.
As we crossed a bridge to get from one side of the park to the other, the kids stopped to feed ducks that were floating through a creek as fish swam below. In between tosses, we appreciated the glow of white and colored lights–some twinkling at different intervals, while others held a steady glow.
Some things were to be expected: the laughter of children on every ride, a cup of coffee in my father-in-law’s hand, costumed candy and my kids wanting chocolate.
But some things were unexpected: the opportunity to easily photograph my children with Santa, long lines that formed outside of doors to see one of the park’s Christmas shows and realizing how much my skee ball game has suffered.
It wasn’t a great game day for the Woodall family. During skee ball, a low amount of points were scored to redeem tickets for a small ball for each child. During a ball toss, there were no winners at all, calling my superior athleticism into question.
It’s quite possible my mother-in-law and I will return before season’s end to buy as many buckets of balls as we have to in order to go home with a plush Abominable Snowman. We need that flurry, messy-haired Yeti in our lives.
Games and rides aside, the park’s real magic came to life after sunset. The glow of Christmas lights reflected in my children’s eyes, visitors smiled at light displays as they carried hot chocolate and, somewhere between the park’s turnpike and the real turnpike, I realized why days like Saturday are so special.
As Black Friday grows into Black November and Cyber Monday turns into Mobile Monday, there’s no shortage of distractions this month. Shoppers aren’t waiting until Friday to get their deals this year; many stores are opening at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. And we don’t need to be at a computer to shop online; we can buy things from our phones, iPads and other tablet devices.
On Thursday, when some of us may trade dessert for waiting in line at chain retailers, we’ll be thankful for days like Saturday. Days when you can let go of stress and schedules, leaving the busyness and rushing around by the wayside. Days when you don’t hurry through family dinners or worry about tomorrow. Days when your only responsibility is having fun at an amusement park.
Days when you can be young at heart, with Christmas morning in your eyes, reveling in a little holiday magic.