Weeks of planning and it is over in a whirlwind! Of course, the tree and decorations are still up and will be for another week – and I am still wading through the ream of photos taken, and there is left over ham in the frig. So it isn’t completely a memory! Yet before the Christmas delight fades into a blur and I turn my attentions to the launch of My Dearest Mr. Darcy, I must share the highlights with all of you.
If you read my post on Dec. 19 (scroll down) you know that the prime Lathan holiday extravaganza was the purchase of annual passes to Disneyland with a trip to the Magic Kingdom for three whole days. Whoot! Of the numerous times we have been to Disneyland over the decades, this was the first ever during the holiday season. It was everything I dreamed it would be! The entire place was decked out in lights and Christmassy decorations galore. Between the 3 of us bearing cameras, we have some 500 photos! It is tough to pick a reasonable number, but I’ll share a few as this essay goes along.
Let me just say that we Lathans LOVE Disneyland! It truly is our favorite vacation destination. This year, as a Christmas treat and reward for a very hectic year, we went all out. First splurge was the Holiday Tour – a guided affair that took us all over the park. Our guide, Anna, was lovely as she shared insider info on Disneyland holiday traditions as well as general Christmas history. We also got to walk right on to the Haunted Mansion and Small World! That was uber-cool. Then we had reserved seating for the Holiday Parade with hot cocoa in souvenir mugs and the best gingerbread cookie men I have ever eaten in my life. I highly recommend going on any of the tours.
Fun Fact: The Haunted Mansion is completely redone in The Nightmare Before Christmas motif. Now, I confess that I did not like that movie, and I really love the Haunted Mansion as it normally is, but it was so fun to see it different and fantastically revamped. We rode it twice! Anna said there are over a hundred pumpkin jack-o-lanterns decorating the grounds and the gingerbread house in the ballroom is real and baked by the Disney bakers!
Fun Fact: A Small World is also completely Christmas inside and out. Along with the classic “It’s a Small World” song, the children of the world sing “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” in their languages.
Fun Fact: The number of lights and decorations throughout the park is staggering. Anna gave us figures, but I can’t remember as the numbers are overwhelmingly huge. The tree alone is awe-inspiring. Yet, she told us that it takes only 50 workers one day to totally deck the entire place! I still can’t believe that.
Fun Fact: For the past several years the Presidential-pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys are given sanctuary at Disneyland! Courage and Carolina have a wonderful pen in Big Thunder Ranch, right alongside all 8 of Santa’s reindeer and are cared for by Santa and Mrs. Claus. How lucky are they?
Our second splurge was getting into the whole pin craze. We bought lanyards to hold our passes and then, of course, had to add the bling (or flair, if you are an Office Space fan and know what I am talking about – LOL!) along the neckstrap. It became a borderline obsession to scan every shop selling pins for something unique. We each managed to find several special pins to start our collection that will continue as we put those passes to good use this year!
Disneyland has great food and we have our favorite places to eat. But I have always wanted to dine fancy at the Blue Bayou restaurant inside The Pirates of the Caribbean. This year I made advance reservations and am here to tell you that it was fantastic! The atmosphere is divine with lapping bayou water, soft jazz music, and faux nighttime lighting. Even better, the food was delicious. Pricey, yes, but no more so than a really top-notch restaurant would be.
Lastly, in the splurge department, we reserved riverside seating for Fantasmic. I love that show and have seen it numerous times, but always with an obstructed view and perched uncomfortably in some manner. It was well worth the cost to have nice chairs set front-and-center AND to be served a tray of yummy treats and warm drinks. Adding to the pleasure, we were able to stay in our spots and enjoy the holiday fireworks display immediately following Fantasmic. Then we were snowed on!
Naturally we visited a bunch of our favorite attractions – Pirates, Star Tours, Indiana Jones, Screamin’, Tower of Terror, Soaring over California, Mark Twain Riverboat, Tiki Room – but most often we simply wandered through the streets and stores, absorbing the holiday atmosphere and taking a ton of pictures. We had so much fun using my iPhone to tweet and take snapshots. At the recommendation of our pastor and his wife (serious Disneyland junkies) we had silhouettes made. This was great as a memento and it was cool to discuss the history of silhouettes with the artist – Connie – a topic I know a bit about from research for a scene in My Dearest Mr. Darcy. *hint* As an added, wonderful bonus, I was fortunate to meet up with two longtime fans/friends of the Saga. Kerry and Sheila took the time out of their lives and family fun to visit with me and have me sign their books! Isn’t that awesome? I wrote about both events here on my blog, so scroll down.
I could go on forever with entertaining tidbits, but will bring that portion to a close. All good things come to an end and we did have to pack up and return home. Disneyland was our main gift, but that certainly does not mean that Santa did not show up! I was scheduled to work on Christmas Eve, but thanks to a low census in the NICU and the hand of fate that drew my name in the lottery dock, I ended up being off. Yeah! The pre-Christmas days were lazy since all preparations had been made prior to our trip, all the presents wrapped except for a few last minute deliveries, so we hung out as a family watching a Star Wars marathon (the original movies, naturally) on Christmas Eve. Not exactly Christmassy, but it IS Star Wars and that is always good! The morning dawned with blue skies, no one rising too early, and leisurely sipping our espresso as the gifts were doled out and opened one at a time. The pile of wrapping pleased the cat, as did the now vacant tree that he insists is his spot. Steve was truly surprised for once with a new flat-screen TV for the bedroom. I was surprised by a Kindle – very cool, although I am still a bit prejudiced toward “real” books – and the biggest surprise: a throw blanket from my daughter with woven images of our family. Unbelievable! A treasure to be sure, and almost too pretty to use. See for yourself:
The day was spent in relaxation, back-to-back episodes of How I Met Your Mother (a gift for my daughter), talking with family far away, writing this blog, and a wonderful ham feast. Another legendary Lathan Christmas is over but the memories will live on. As will the pine needles that are burrowed into the carpet to be vacuumed in the weeks to come. LOL!
I hope everyone’s Christmas celebration was fabulous and memorable. I would love to hear your stories if you wish to share. Come back tomorrow for news on the My Dearest Mr. Darcy Launch Fete. Party time!!