The holidays are fast approaching! Never fails, we are always pinching money during this time of year to ensure our kiddos don’t go without. BUT, that doesn’t mean we can’t take in all of the holiday activities in our own special Pack Family way! The Scioto Mile was lit yesterday as well as the Columbus Commons downtown. The Columbus Parks and Recreation Department has made great strides in cleaning up the downtown area making it a place where people don’t just work there, they play there! There’s also Zoo Lights going on and a bunch of other activities all around the city. As much as we want to do it all, the cost for all those activities adds up quickly! So Steve and I hatched a plan to create the Polar Express Round Trip for the Pack Family.
It started with help from one of our closest friends, Beth. She beats out Wikipedia when it comes to being a source of information and will give you a run for your money on Jeopardy (I let her win when we watch it together because, you know, it’s important to her…bwahahahahaha). She also pretty much has her own library because not only is she an avid reader, so are her two fantastic kiddos, Jodi & Jake. I asked if she had some kiddie books around that I could borrow that would be age appropriate for our 3-year-old. With a wink and a blink, she rounded up over 30 kiddie books and demanded we not borrow but instead keep them.
I did a search online for the Polar Express Ticket. I wanted something that looked authentic. I found the perfect image! I pasted the image into a Word document and enlarged them into fun-size tickets! Looking for Polar Express Tickets? DOWNLOAD THESE! I printed them and cut the tickets out. While I was doing this, Big Steve took the books into our bedroom and locked the door. He wrapped each book up individually in bright red wrapping paper. Ok, as I look more closely at the picture, I am guessing the name in the bottom left corner is “Aidan”? Oopsy, I should have photo-shopped right over that name lol. Oh well, the tickets still looked very real! Actually, I just officially named our minivan “Aidan” so it’s all good! LOL
We told the kids we had a surprise for them and to get their PJs on. They returned in their flannels after just a few short minutes. We handed them their tickets and said let’s go! It’s time to get the Pack Polar Express Round Trip on the road! The kids were both excited, yes, the 3 year old and the 16 year old!
While Stevie helped his little brother into his car seat, Steve stayed behind just long enough to put all the wrapped books under the tree.
As we turned off our street we were saddened to see a huge house fire just around the corner on Sedalia. Here we are ready to embark on the Polar Express and someone lost their home. Just another reminder to always be thankful every second of everyday. The road was closed off so we had to circle around. This additional time was good because we called in our family favorite pizza, The Founders Favorite, from Donatos and had 20 minutes to kill before we could pick it up. Wonder what’s on the Founder’s Favorite? Ham, sausage, pepperoni and green peppers! Super delicious!
The first thing we had to do was fill up the Polar Express. Gas was $3.27 a gallon. Not too bad although I do remember when gas was .99 cents when I had my very first car. Of course, that was 23 years ago, lol. Steve picked up our sodas while paying for the gas.
Big Steve is always so thoughtful and thinking one step ahead of everyone else. While the gas was pumping, Steve cleaned off the windows of our Polar Express so everyone would have a clear view of the Christmas lights to come.
We left the gas station and picked up our pizza. We all enjoyed our pizza as we headed first toward the Port Columbus Airport. What is really fantastic is that we received coupons for buy one ticket, get one ticket for the Zoo lights attached to the pizza box! So maybe in the near future we can do that as well!
We found a little parking lot just off the runway and watched a couple of airplanes fly in. It was dark but the planes were lit up! Spencer really enjoyed that. Did you know there is a big “X” that flashes down the runway? I never noticed that before. Spencer was quick to see it and point it out. I guess for the pilots it means, “X hits the spot” or maybe “X this lane closed for Santa?” LOL
Off we went down Broad Street heading west into downtown. We took side trips down well-lit streets in Bexley. Some folks go all out decorating their homes with Christmas lights (others do not, lol). Spencer loved it all and would yell out what color the lights were. Can you tell we were driving in the pictures below? LOL
We finally arrived downtown and I was saddened for a moment to see the manger scene again not put up on East Broad. That’s ok because a couple blocks later and we were by the Columbus Commons. Downtown was busy and full of bundled up families taking in the sights, sounds and tastes of downtown! They had kiddie rides, food vendors and even a campfire to roast marshmallows. This is definitely someplace I want to come to next year with the family when the holiday season rolls around!
We then drove further to the Scioto Mile and the lighting was so very impressive. We drove over the newly opened bridges and once we were on the other side of the river, we all got out to take in the lights and get some pictures of our beautiful downtown Columbus. The colorful lights reflected off the river creating a very magical view of the riverfront!
Even though we were in our PJs, we also took keepsake pictures of ourselves.
As we drove away, I had to get a picture of the LeVeque Tower downtown. The colors are always changing depending on what month it is. The traditional red, green and white lit up the top of the building for December. It is my secret wish that one day, the LeVeque will be lit purple in the month of November to raise awareness about Pulmonary Hypertension. Maybe one day.
We drove into German Village just south of downtown to look at more lights the residents had put up. We eventually weaved down to 104 and headed back home.
Once home, we gasped and said, “Look Spencer! Santa had called and said he was bringing you a few presents to get you started and he must have come by while we were gone!” We told Spencer that tonight he can open one present. He looked them over and picked one. I think Santa knocked some pine needles off of the tree? LOL
He eagerly unwrapped it and was smiling ear to ear to find it was a book. Spencer crawled up on my lap and we read the book together. I explained to Spencer there are enough presents under the tree for him to unwrap just one every night. So every night, Spencer and I will be reading a new book together! Thanks again to Beth who made this possible!
Make your holidays bright whichever way you financially can. Anything is possible if you just BELIEVE and get a little creative!