Christmas memories: ‘The Polar Express’

Christmas traditions can often be meh … they are tried and true, but repetitive. Decorating Christmas cookies, trimming the tree and watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” are all fun aspects of Christmas, but there are definitely ways to spice up your Christmas traditions and keep things interesting from year to year.

One way you can add some flare to your Christmas traditions is by conducting your own Polar Express. I’m sure you’ve seen the hit, animated classic where Tom Hanks voices literally all but four or five characters. Perhaps you were like my brother who was young when he went to see the movie in theaters and the ghost character traumatized you to the point where you still disdain the movie today. Regardless, the idea of being whisked away on a magical train to the north pole on Christmas Eve is a delightful concept. My parents knew how much my sisters and I enjoyed the movie, so one year, they decided to experiment with our own Polar Express. After all of us were snuggled up in our favorite fluffy Christmas PJs on Christmas Eve, my parents came to each of our rooms, turned on our lights, and told us to get in the car. We were all a bit dazed and confused when my mom handed each of us a thermos of hot chocolate, tiny marshmallows bobbing up and down. She also handed each of us a ticket, and much like in the movie, one letter was hole punched out of the tiny slip of paper.

We then loaded into the car and drove all over Rogers, Bentonville and even Fayetteville looking at Christmas lights, listening to the movie soundtrack bump through the speakers and singing along gleefully. At the end of the ride, my mom took each of our tickets and finished the word she had started by hole punching her favorite characteristic about each of us. Mine was joy.

Last week, when I was home for Thanksgiving, my mom texted all of my siblings and asked what traditions we wanted to continue this year since all of us are busy and in different seasons of life. My brother immediately responded and said, “Literally the only thing I care about is doing our Polar Express ride,” which was surprising, considering his history with the movie. My sisters and I agreed. So Christmas Eve, instead of trimming the tree or baking cookies, you’ll find me and my family on our annual express ride, the tradition that all of us cherish so deeply.