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My Kind of Christmas Eve

December 31, 2013

A few days before Christmas, I left this:

Bridge Street Christmas

And this:

Colorado Christmas PJs

I spent a long day traveling…

The sunset as seen from my window seat was more beautiful than this photo lets on.

The sunset as seen from my window seat was more beautiful than this photo lets on.

And I arrived to this:

Williamsburg Weather

I might have been leaving a white Christmas behind, but I was beyond thrilled to soak up the warmer temperatures and let the humidity seep into my dry skin.  I spent the first few days of my Christmas vacation lounging around my parents’ house, going for a few runs around the neighborhood and embracing the upcoming holiday.  One of my favorite Christmas traditions is simply wrapping presents with my sister while listening to Christmas music and coming up with ridiculous saying to put on our gift tags.

Wrapping gifts

On the night before the night before Christmas we got all dolled up for a fancy family dinner at local French restaurant Le Yaca.

Christmas eve eve dinner

It was decadent and delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed savoring every bite without pausing to blog about it.  Sorry I’m not sorry.

Suddenly it was Christmas Eve, and we had a wonderful day lined up with two of my favorite holiday traditions.  First came mother-daughter mani/pedis at Atir Natural Nail Care Clinic.  Atir is hands-down the best nail salon I’ve ever frequented and it’s ruined me for ever enjoying a manicure or pedicure elsewhere.  The nail techs are sweet and chatty in a non-intrusive sort of way and they do a wonderful job with excellent attention to detail.  This is not an in-and-out affair. Rather, they spend a full hour on each manicure and pedicure.  That might seem a little time consuming, but on vacation it’s just perfect.  And look at how sparkly my nails turned out!

Atir manicure

All glittered-up, we went home and met up with the boys to get ready for my favorite Christmas activity of all – Christmas Town at Busch Gardens!  During the holiday season, our local theme park decks the halls park with gorgeous light displays.  There are a few rides running, shows to watch and plenty of food and drink to keep you merry and full.  It’s just the best.  We arrived a little early while it was still light out, so we hunkered down inside an Irish pub until darkness fell.  We emerged into a magical forest…

Christmas Town

And came out on the other side in France.

Christmas Town Busch Gardens

Christmas Town

We wandered through faux-snow flurries until we found ourself at the most magical location of all… the North Pole!

The North Pole Christmas Town

Then we swung back south through Germany, where the Christmas market and the Festhaus were totally decked out for the holidays.

Festhaus Christmas Town

Is it weird how much I love this photo?

Is it weird how much I love this photo?

On our way out of Germany, we came to the roller coaster that us “kids” had been excited to ride all night: Verbolten.  I won’t spoil the surprise (because there is one), but I’ll tell you that if you like roller coasters you’re bound to love this one.  It’s actually pretty scary.  In a fun way.  Suffice it to say that it left my sister and me looking like this:

Verbolten

We rode in the very front row and it was legitimately frightening, but oh so fun.  Afterward, we rode a much tamer ride that brought us straight up into the air and slowly rotated around for a gorgeous view of the illuminated park.  No photography was allowed at the top which is probably a good thing because I 100% would have dropped my camera.

Once we returned to earth, we were all a little chilled and picked up the pace as we ventured across a bridge to Italy.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Busch Gardens Christmas Town

This section of the park was decorated the most beautifully in my opinion, with more classy light displays than the other “countries.”  It made for a pretty jarring juxtaposition when we made our way to the next section, a kitschy 1950s-Christmas-themed area overloaded with tacky decor.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Busch Gardens Christmas Town

After running away from those decorations and matching music (if you can imagine), we entered my very favorite section.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Just like last year, this huge water ride was illuminated beautifully.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town

In person, the lights rippled to look like water.  It is far and away the most impressive light display I’ve ever seen.

We left the park and headed straight to our friends’ house to join them for Christmas Eve dessert, another favorite tradition of mine.  Then, it was home for the tradition I am the most sentimental about: cuddling on the couch while my mom reads The Polar Express to my sister and me.  This is one tradition that we’ve kept up since we were kids, and I don’t think we’ve ever missed a year.  Then all snuggled up in our Christmas jammies, it was off to bed to await Santa’s arrival!

Tell me, what are your favorite Christmas traditions?

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