Every year our family takes a day just before Christmas to spend together. We never do the exact same thing twice, but we do enjoy lights, decorations, and a meal out together. This year we decided to go further afield than ever before and head to Charlotte – a city the kids had never visited.
Our trip to Charlotte was prompted by our Big Helper’s love for American Girl. This company recently opened a store in a big mall just south of Charlotte, and we hadn’t made it there yet. While we didn’t plan to do any major shopping, we thought she’d love checking out the store, restaurant, and the wide variety of products available.
She did. We spent about three hours wandering through the store, dreaming about what it must be like to play with such fancy toys.
In the end, our Big Helper picked out a cute new outfit for her Julie doll, complete with boots in the same style as her own, and then we headed out.
We stopped at a nearby train station and purchased tickets for a ride into the city. The kids had never ridden on a Subway or Metro before, and they were quite excited by the experience. I found it interesting the way that the train started out far above ground at our station, but then went up and down as we traveled. Fortunately, unlike in some bigger cities, the train felt very safe and wasn’t crowded.
The kids were excited to see tall buildings as soon as we arrived, but I enjoyed the Christmas decorations even more. This was my first visit to this city during the Christmas season, and the many parks were all decorated beautifully.
Having snacked our way through lunch because of our lengthy American Girl stay, we soon headed to Ri Ra for dinner, an old Irish pub. We’ve loved our visits to Tir na nog in Raleigh and were sad to hear of their closing, so we were hoping for another authentic Irish experience. Our Big Helper ordered shepherd’s pie, and we were all happy to help her finish this huge portion. Their food was excellent and the atmosphere fun. It made for a great meal out.
We had hoped to visit a few museums, but we got there just as they were closing. We hadn’t expected to hang out in the AG store for so long! Nevertheless, there were beautiful decorations just outside all of them.
While I would never want to live in a city, they can be really fun to visit for a short while. We thoroughly enjoyed this chance to see lights and decorations on a scale that doesn’t exist in our small town.
After that, we headed back to the train station and back to our car. We debated about possibilities at this point, but in the end IKEA won out. The kids had never been, had heard exciting things about it, and so we went there to admire furniture and examine the creativity that went into such unusual designs. The kids came home with all sorts of new ideas for how to build things, and we liked seeing them so enthused about something that was new to them.
Christmas Family Date Day 2015 was a long one, but it was great. Exploring new places and seeing new things is always exciting, but when everything is covered in tinsel and lights it’s even better.
What are some of your family holiday traditions?