Posts Tagged With: holidays

The Polar Express Travels the Hills of West Virginia

For children of all ages, there is a deep and never-changing love for trains and for stories that give us hope. The story of the Polar Express captivated my two sons’ hearts and mine over 22 years ago when the book was first released and I stumbled on to the book at the local book store. Cody my oldest son, got the book and his first of many silver sleigh bells as a Christmas gift while he was in Kindergarten. We read the book over and over that holiday season. After he returned to school he told everyone about the book. For years after that first Christmas, I was asked to come to his elementary school to read out loud the book that had captured the heart of my oldest son and every child who heard the story of a boy and his lost bell.polar express book

 

Then 17 years later Christopher was born and the tradition of The Polar Express continued with the same book and a small boy. Somewhere along the way, others fell in the love with the story and the movie was made that almost every child today has heard of. I was again asked to come to the elementary school and read allowed the worn and dog eared pages to the children. Soon after the release of the movie, an idea came into the mind of a group of avid train people in Elkins, West Virginia and The Polar Express became a live stage show on the rails in the mountains. With last year’s count of riders being over 30,000 who come each year to spend a couple hours on the train to have a short visit with Santa and be reminded that even the oldest of us can still believe in the spirit of Christmas.

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Christopher and Paige ready to board the Polar Express 2019

This year we were lucky enough to get tickets to take my youngest son and my granddaughter for a ride on the Durbin & Greenbrier Valleys Railroads licensed version of The Polar Express. The tickets sell out around April so it takes a little planning to get them before the Holiday Season. We were encouraged to ride the 7pm train just after dark so the kids could see the holiday lights at the North Pole. the Durbin & Greenbrier runs three trains on most nights one at 5pm one at 7pm and one at 9pm with the later two running in the dark.

polar Express family photo

Welcome Center Depot at Elkins West Virginia

The experience is geared so that riders are entertained on the way out to the North Pole (45 mins) with the dancing, singing chefs from the book who serve cookies, and hot chocolate to every passenger. The return trip ( 45mins) is filled with meetings with the Hobo that rides on the roof of the train and a visit with Santa and several elves. Each passenger has their Gold Train ticket punched and is gifted a silver sleigh bell imprinted with the words The Polar Express. The evening ends with the Chefs telling jokes and tossing snowballs around the train car and making fake snow.

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crowds board the Polar Express

Dancing Chef on Polar Express

One of the twenty or so Dancing Chefs

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Tom and Christopher Powers aboard the Polar Express 2019

This trip was a gift to my Granddaughter and it was a special experience that we shared together and will never forget. As we left the train and walked in the dark back to our truck, I realized that my cheeks hurt from all the smiling I had done over the two hours. That I was happy about the holidays for the first time in several years. That I had actually gotten a few precious hours of my childhood back and was so thankful to Santa for my very own silver sleigh bell. At 50 I think I needed to remember that there is always hope and a reason to believe.

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Paige Powers tossing snowballs around train car on the Polar Express

Christopher with santa on the polar express

Christopher talking with Santa on the Polar Express

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My first  Sleighbell  from Santa on the Polar Express 2019

The night ended with two very happy young people who drank hot chocolate ate cookies and met the Santa for maybe the last time before they reach their teens. They bought ornaments to take home and snuggled up together in the back seat laughing and smiling about what they saw and how they could do the whole trip again. Tom and I held hands on the way home, at peace and with happiness in our hearts. It was as if Christmas had come back to us too.

I will always be thankful to author Chris Van Allsburg for his skill in writing and drawing. His story has filled my adult life over and over again with hundreds of wonder-filled children who sat patiently to hear about the train ride to the North Pole. His story has helped to revitalize a small mountain town in West Virginia that had a train, the snow and the wilderness of his story. But most of all he has filled my middle age with memories of happy children and my first silver sleigh bell….. maybe if I am still lucky I will hear it ring for many more years to come.

 

Categories: Chris Van Allsburg, Christmas, Christopher, Elkins West Virginia, Family, family fun, family memories, family traditions, Holidays, Polar Express, trains, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

If Martha Stewart had an ADHDD sister.

If Martha Stewart had a ADHDD sister I would be her.I love the holidays it gives me a reason to cook, bake and decorate. I at one time was a professional interior decorator. I worked for J.C. Penny’s custom decorating and I worked with a furniture store doing whole homes of furniture and accessories. So I get into the holidays deep, really deep, baking, candy making, making decorations and trimming trees (this year only three). Yet, as a house wife I don’t have the staff of professionals that people like Martha Stewart does to help me. So what most people do in a weekend I spend all month working on and in the process I make a huge mess. I dream of  someone to clean up every thing for me, maybe a hansom older man to do dishes, a young one to climb the ladder for the roof lights, and a nice granny kinda woman to clean while I decorate the tree. I just wish that I was not so caught up in my disorder ADHDD ( Attention Deficit Holiday Decorating Disorder) that I could say stop all on my own. But  my family all know that the only thing that ends my ADHDD binge is the date Dec 31st. New Years Eve sends shivers down my spine because it is the next day that I start to clean it all back up.

Blue and Silver Christmas tree 2015

Blue and Silver Christmas tree 2015

I feel like the bad sister that Martha would never talks about.  You know the one who suffers from over decorating and over baking. That family member who has a couple of rooms in the house totally covered in exploding  holiday decorations. The one that has two sinks over flowing with pots and pans because on a whim I needed to make candy for the entire 1 st grade class. The one who is making a mad dash to Wal-Mart at 10  pm to get spray paint because you forgot the it 4 times this week. The one who puts more lights on the pre-lighted tree because it is just toooo plain with out blue lights too. The one who has to color coordinate the tree to the curtains and the dinner dishes, you get the picture, right? I have  ADHDD so bad that I can never really finish one project before the next one needs attention. I am usually doing several things at once.

mess of unpacked decorations

mess of unpacked decorations

So this being our first Christmas in the new to us house, I have begun to get things out of the boxes and totes.I  am trying desperately to get a grip on this ADHDD thing and not go over board. I have so much I want to decorate now that we live in town. I never really did much outside before because we lived on a farm.The only people who would really enjoy it were my own kids and making them happy was easy. Now we have neighbors, and  they have begun to decorate outside, leaving me feeling behind in the decorating game. I can’t blame them, the weather was perfect last weekend and I wish I had spent some time trying to make things look festive but in the end we spent time with family instead. It was great too and I hope to write about it soon.

So as I write this I am just finishing up a batch of old fashion hard tack candy and bagging it up. Then putting up stockings and putting out my sons train under a tree. Holiday music is blasting and I cry every darn time I hear someone sing “Mary did You Know?” … something about Mary kissing  little Jesus’s face….. gets me every time.

Sugar covered table and Old Fashioned Hard Tack Candy

Sugar covered table and Old Fashioned Hard Tack Candy

I have three strings of out-door lights that need hung and an inflatable snoopy that needs placed in the yard. I have holiday cards to send out and three holiday parties to attend. I have groceries still to by and two wreaths to make. The silly thing is that in all of this mass of confusion, I am happy, more happy than I have been in years.The ADHDD has kicked in and I will be holiday buzzing for the next month.Maybe it is all the cookies and candy or the extra caffeine but I am feeling grand.

Christophers tree that needs help to finish and a table of trains

Christopher’s tree that needs help to finish and a table of trains

Then as if I did not know it was coming, it will be over, the holidays will end and I have to put it all back. New Years day will come with its lingering effects of staying up to late will make me tired and grumpy. Tom and I will sleep in and  little Christopher will crawl into our bed to snuggle as we say “Happy New Year” to each other. I will be sad, lingering under the covers to long, knowing that a the New Year has begone. I will worry about where to put everything that has arrived at our door over Christmas. I will drink a strong cup of tea in my P.J’s and start the long, slow process of undoing all my hard work in a matter of a day or two. I will miss the blue and white lights, the smell of cinnamon, and the taste of home-made cookies. I will carefully pack away each ornament and place the tree carefully back in its box. I will dust and vacuum up the silver glitter off the floor. The plates of cookies and candy will get tossed out. I will known in my sad heart that my disorder is restrained again for another year. Secretly, I think about my “New Year Resolution”. It will not have anything to do with weight or being more loving, but about taking it easy on the decorating next year. Praying that next holiday season my house will look perfect from beginning to end and Martha Stewart will stop by and be pleased with what I have done. That maybe she will share in my story of ADHDD and secretly nod to me her understanding.. because once many years ago she was a  decorating nut-bucket just like me.

Categories: About me, candy, Christmas, Home Decor, New Years Eve | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Think Handmade Gifts or Support an Artist This Year

   With the holidays almost here I wanted to share an idea with all of you.

Five hands thinking

Five hands thinking

    I love to surround myself with people who also understand this idea and  make things. It is with pleasure that I share my life with artist of every kind. Most are people I have known for years and have struggled to have a voice for their passions. Most work other jobs to support themselves and pay for their supplies. So while thinking about what you want your gifts to say to those you give them to, think about supporting an artist. If you are not able to make something handmade yourself then let a person who has a wonderful skill help.

These are just a few of the artist that I know and support. They are just part of a wonderful culture of local artist that need all of us to keep working. It is through the arts that we teach our children that there is more to the world then what we all see at the huge chain stores and the value of things that are hand-made. Add a hand-made items to you gift giving this year and open up the door to a conversation about who made it and how. If we are lucky we maybe able to teach our children about how reclaiming, recycling works or about how to learn a new skill or how a tradition continues from our past.

  My brother William Lowrey ( Bill) painted and carved any piece of wood he could find. I still remember having a wooden skate board that he craved and painted while he was in High School. Over the years he as grown as an artist and become a master furniture builder and sculptor in the Denver Colorado area. He has spent years reclaiming lost lumber to make into something new. A favorite piece of mine is a Reclaimed Redwood table that he made a few years back it is the perfect balance of beauty and usefulness.  He also makes sculptures from reclaimed marble and wood. Many of his works are about balance and texture with a very modern flair.

my brother Bill Lowrey

my brother Bill Lowrey

reclaimed redwood  coffee table

reclaimed redwood coffee table

reclaimed marble wall sulpture light-dark

top of reclaimed redwood end table

top of reclaimed redwood end table

Contact him at his website or through his on-line gallery, http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/bill-lowrey-art.html.

   My life long friend and photographer Alex Smits of Seattle Washington is “The King” of Girls-n-Guns photography. Thiers are many great photographers but he has taken his subject-matter to a new level. He has single-handedly removed many of the stereo types about the idea of woman and guns. What once had a fetish following is now a creative statement with a back bone of great skill and creative force. He makes beautiful calendars, cards and enlargements of his favorite subject matter.

alex shooting on the beach

Rear view Jenny by Alex Smits

Rear view Jenny by Alex Smits

Cheryl at Fireplace

Jenny white Sweater

Jenny white Sweater

 Contact him at his website,http://www.alexsmits.com/ or his face book page.

  My friend and mad knitter Jennifer at Lavishcraft in Denver, Colorado has been on her journey to bring hand knitted items from the back of your grandmas closet to the front line of fashion for years. She is a power house of  unique design with a strong understanding of line and texture making the most simple items into detailed works of art. She is also able to do what the chain stores can’t and that is customise her work for you body or your needs.

Purple scarf

Purple scarf

Jennifer with cape

Jennifer with cape

Vault Coul gray

You can contact her at her Esty shop at,http://www.etsy.com/shop/lavishcraft?ref=si_shop.

 This year my family is focusing on making many of our holiday gifts and in my case I have made hundreds of jars of jelly that I will gift to family and friends in the tradition of my Grandmother and Father in Law. Hope every one likes the Apple Cider Jelly this year! What is it that you want to say with your gifts this year. Share something Hand Made !

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Categories: furniture, gifts, Holidays, Knitting, Photos | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

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