Wednesday, November 21, 2012

that's the spirit

Ahhh...the spirit of Christmas!

You know it's time to start making that gift list a reality when the big guy in the red suit waltzes into town.  And did he ever make a grand entrance into town this past weekend at the Santa Claus parade. (with a cool wireless headphone mic, no less)

After years of going to the local parade, since the kids are old enough to brace the long wait with little complaints (ha!), but are still young enough to appreciate some Santa related festivities, we decided to go to the main parade in the city.  So we bundled up and headed on the train with blankets, snacks, and hot chocolate filled thermoses in tow, and arrived early to meet with friends and get a great spot to watch "the BIG" parade.

After securing our spot for 2 hours (apparently some people waited for 5 hours!), we watched as those who arrived late (as in, after the parade had already started), waltz in like VIP grinches and stand in front of little kids who waited for hours in the front row.  Ahhh...there's that spirit again...

Using a newly developed iPhone app (which was embraced by no one more than me..."When IS Santa showing up!!!!"), we were able to track Santa on his route down to where we were standing, so we knew "if Santa was around the corner or not".


Float after float went by, not necessarily to wish us a Merry Christmas but more to remind everyone to act quick and get the hottest pop group's CD, video game or DVD movie.  Call it my imagination, but the very next day, parking lots at the malls seemed a little more crowded.  Mmm.....hey, that's my spot!

I'm not sure if it's just my age, but I'm starting to miss the simpler activities around Christmas.  A time when a Christmas tree wasn't a pink and purple lit upside down cone, but a tree with branches and pine needles.  A time when a Santa parade had floats with signs that actually said " Merry Christmas" on it, not "Get the latest CD, just in time for the holidays!"

Or maybe I just need to remind myself to look a little harder and find those really wonderful Christmas "spirits" at the parade, like the Toys for the North program and the Red Nose program (where toy donations and proceeds from the sales of the Rudolph noses went to various charities).

And of course to enjoy the most important (to me)... happy, spirited kids. When I asked them what they thought about the parade, they said the floats were cool, the iPhone app was handy and shrugged when the big guy showed up at the end.  But it was after the parade when they really started to get excited because they knew that when all that "hoopla" was done, the REAL FUN was going to begin...spending more time with family and friends.  And with smiles on their faces, laughter with friends, and hot chocolate stains on one exhausted Mom...they laughed, hugged and said "Merry Christmas" to EVERYONE.

Maybe the spirit of Christmas is here after all...

Homemade Hot Chocolate with Baileys
(approx. 4 servings)

  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (chocolate chips would also work fine)
  • 2 ounces of butterscotch chips (optional)
  • 1 ounce Bailey's irish cream (optional)

  • Heat milk, water, sugar to a boil. (also add vanilla bean seeds, from pod, if using).
  • Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and butterscotch chips until they melt into milk. 
  • Pour into small mugs or cups and add "spirits" for adults, as required.
  • Top with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Enjoy the spirit of the holidays!

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