I picked up Melissa and Crispy from school (Melissa was kind of excited to skip half of a day!), dropped Michael off back at the house after band, threw dinner in the crockpot, grabbed a handful of snacks for the car ride, and we were off! Again, via cell phone, my mom helped me find a place to park. I really don't know where this fear of downtown came from, but I can't get past the mind mush that comes over me while driving in it. We waited on the roof level of the ramp for Grandma & Grandpa & our cousins to arrive....there. All better....now we are not alone!
We had planned on eating lunch first, but couldn't resist getting off the elevator on the 8th floor when we saw there was NO LINE for the display! We got to enjoy every scene for as long as we wanted, without strangers pushing at us from all angles and without tripping over little kids who had lost their parents in the crowd. The story of the Nutcracker was new to all of the kids, but every one of them seemed to enjoy watching it unfold scene by scene. Even the babies liked the animations and lit up displays. At the end, we got to visit privately with Santa...what a patient man he was as we spent 10 minutes getting that perfect photo with him and all 7 little people together!
We then had lunch (again with no line) on the 12th floor, where I learned that it takes 15 minutes to make a PB & J sandwich. While eating, Laura became very distressed because she forgot to tell Santa about some other things she REALLY wanted for Christmas and was begging to go back to talk to him. I tried to explain we could write an email to him when we got home. She was not too sold on this idea, and remained distressed about her plight for the rest of the day. After their main meal, the kids all munched on yummy gingerbread men cookies that Tia Lisa had purchased at the Nutcracker display. We then were on our way out of Macy's.
My dad graciously rode in my truck with me and my now crying baby as we drove through unfamiliar (to me) streets to see the frozen Minnehaha Falls. I hadn't been there since about high school! It was pretty cool to see the frozen cascading waters suspended in time....if you looked very closely, you could see water still rushing under the frozen layers of ice under one part of the falls.
We took a leisurely scenic drive along the Mississippi back to my parents' house, passing our childhood homes and schools, and looking at Christmas lights (none compared to our own at home!). After a nice little dinner and more playtime with the cousins, we reluctantly said our good-byes and got ready to leave. As we walked out to the truck, we heard Christmas carols playing from Santa's firetruck down the street. We quickly walked down the road to the next corner to catch another glimpse of Santa. He waved as he passed us, while his firemen helpers passed out candycanes. As Santa drove away, Laura yelled out that she wanted Max & Ruby DVDs for Christmas....he seemed to reply "Ho ho ho!" She turned back around with a look of satisfaction and relief that she finally got to finish telling Santa her Christmas list wishes. What a nice end to such a wonderful day!