Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tilden Merry-Go-Round Christmas

We took our kids up to the Tilden Park Merry-go-Round in Berkeley last night. What a magical place at Christmas time. What a magical place! We love going because it feels like a real Christmas event, not a mass-produced Muzak commercial affair that you often get in the big shopping malls.

All around the merry-go-round are Christmas trees decked out with an incredible selection of ornaments for sale. We have a tradition of buying a new ornament for the kids each year (we plan to give them all their ornaments when they leave home), and this is a wonderful place to shop for them.

I didn't have my camera or I would include some pictures of the trees and ornaments. I asked someone working there, and she said that the owner spends all year searching the globe for ornaments, and then hires four girls to decorate all the trees. Each tree has its own theme -- there was one covered with
feathered ornaments, another one all white with silver stars and white peacocks. And the ornaments, oh my, so many to choose from. Kitschy and romantic and silly and artistic, tiny and huge.

I picked out a little school-bus ornament with spinning wheels for Michael. He grabbed it out of my hand and he sat there in my sling quietly spinning its wheels and investigating all its nooks and crannies for the next forty-five minutes, looking up every now and then to stare at the lights and the merry-go-round

The lawn outside of the merry-go-round is covered with lighted structures, and there is a 150 foot live pine tree bedecked with lights that you can see towering over the forest as you approach the merry-go-round. There is a little cafe serving hot cider, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, popcorn -- all the favorites of kid kuisine.

We discovered this event a few years ago, when Ariel was really into the merry-go-round. At that time the event was pretty low-key - the crowds were light, and Santa was riding the merry-go-round, waving, walking around and saying hello to kids, handing out candy.

Since then the word has got out. This year the parking lot was packed. Santa had to have his own house outside, and the line to see him was about an hour. But for all that, and even though it was FREEZING (OK, freezin for Berkeley), everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time (except for some of the staff, who seemeda bit overwhelmed with the crowds).

We're heading off to New Mexico on Thursday, for a big family Christmas. All my siblings are coming, some with their new beaus in tow. My Mom lives in a big log house in a small village in the mountains
called Chama. We'll be going skiing, lighting luminarias, and cooking lots of big meals.

Happy Holidays to all!

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