One of my favorite Christmas traditions is a relatively new one. We have only been doing it for the past 3 years, but I hope to be doing it for many more to come. Early one Saturday in December, we head up to The Grove in Los Angeles to see Santa. Of course it is so much more than that, which is why it is such a great tradition. Both last year and this year, we were unsure if the various illnesses of the Christmas Curse would allow us to make the trek. There are only so many Saturdays in December. Amazingly, everyone was well enough to go. We also had to brave the rain, both last year and this one. Being that we live in sunny so cal, that is pretty strange. Normally it wouldn't matter that much, but The Grove is an outside mall, so it really does matter.
This year it started raining on our way up, but we tried to stay positive. "There are tons of malls up here. We'll just find another one." "It looks like it is clearing up over there." "I see some blue there." Meanwhile, it was pouring. When we pulled into the nearly empty parking lot, the rain had lessened to a fine drizzle. It could have started pouring again, but we decided to go for it anyway. "At least there will be no line for Santa!" (Anyone who knows us, knows how much we hate waiting in line--we avoid it as much as possible. Strange, we aren't afraid of crowds or anything, just of wasting time.)
As you can see, we had the place to ourselves. But the rain stopped all together and we got right in to see Santa. Every year, James has big plans to sit on Santa's lap, but chickens out in the end. When he was a baby, he sat on Santa's lap without a whimper, until he turned around and saw who was holding him. You should have seen the look of terror on his face. It is pretty hilarious. William wouldn't even have anything to do with Santa when he was a baby, so that year began our tradition of the "Santa family photo". The boys sit on our laps, and we sit next to Santa. Check back to this post, I'll find them and scan them in.
Lilly was far braver than her brothers and had no problem sitting on Santa's lap. Although, in the 2nd picture here, she does look a bit concerned. Perhaps she is picking up on James concern, because they are making the EXACT same face. Are those 2 clones or what?
Funny side note about Lilly's Christmas dress. I am new to this whole dressing up a little girl thing and this Christmas I realized I have lots to learn. For example, you have to get a Christmas dress in like September. Or directly after Halloween at the latest. By the time I got around to shopping, early December, there was nothing left. This has never been a problem with the boys because I just get them a cute dress shirt that isn't super Christmassy (no reindeer or snowmen sweater vests) and call it a day. But I wanted Lilly to have a Christmas dress. So I dragged my 3 kids all over the mall, "this is the last store, I promise", in search of the elusive dress. I finally found a cute, red corduroy jumper at Baby Gap. It wasn't quite what I had in mind but beggars can't be choosers. My favorite part were the tights anyway. It really was a cute dress, on the hanger. But when I put it on her Saturday morning before we went to see Santa, I remembered why I never dressed my babies in overalls. When they sit down, the overalls climb up their neck and cover their mouth and seem very uncomfortable. Jumpers do the same thing. This one was a v-neck, so it didn't cover her mouth, but it did ride up on her shoulders and just didn't look right. Oh well, live and learn. Next year I'll be buying a Christmas dress in July.
After our family portrait with Santa, we went to William,'s favorite spot-- the fountain. It is one of those that jumps in the air in time to music. He loves it and will watch it for as long as we let him. This is one of the reasons why we love to come here to see Santa. The Grove is like the Disneyland of malls. We don't even go in the stores (who would with 3 little kids? Oh, that's right, the crazy lady looking for a Christmas dress for her 5 month old daughter who would look cute in a paper bag.) It's all the other cool stuff to do there that makes it fun.
On the way, we passed the Apple store, where James noted that this Santa is a doctor. Ahh, my innocent little son. He still doesn't know what an ipod is. (Neither do I. is that supposed to be in caps?) I like that.
The very best part about going to the Grove is actually going to the Farmer's Market. It is the coolest place. It almost makes me want to move somewhere even more crowded than the place I live, just so that I could go there everyday. Besides all of the different kinds of really good food available there, I think I like the way it feels very European. Like a piazza in Italy or a market in France. Also, I like the donuts.
We all do. And look, they serve their coffee in real cups. That is Aaron's favorite part. William likes the kitty cat donut. He likes to pretend to be a kitty cat, so it's perfect really. "It's pink, Mommy. That's your favorite cola." Have you ever seen a donut as adorable as this?
Or have you ever seen a boy as adorable as this one? James was really feeling the LA vibe when we took this shot. He looks like a model. Of course, I am slightly biased. But really, don't you agree that is one good looking kid?
It is a good thing we got there early and in the rain. Look at that line for Santa. Would it really be worth it to stand in line for a pretend Santa? We had to repeatedly remind James that he could not spill the beans about Santa while we stood in line with other kids. It was hard for him to understand why he couldn't tell them the truth. Lying is bad, right? Kids, they are so stinking black and white.
Did I mention there is a trolley at The Grove? A double-decker trolley with a real conductor and a bell and tracks and that you can ride on as many times as you want for FREE???!!! Yep. It is loads of fun. And we do. Any time I say we are going to a mall, they always ask for the mall with the trolley. Can you blame them?
Before we head home, we hit the Farmer's Market again and go to Loteria. It is a great Mexican restaurant. The boys like the nachos, while I highly recommend the taquitos. Aaron gives the huevos rancheros 2 thumbs up. Pretty much you can't go wrong with Loteria. You can sit right at the counter and watch them throw tiny, corn tortillas on the grill to wrap up the bite size tacos they are famous for.
In spite of rain, sickness, Christmas dresses that just don't work, and other minor difficulties, we had another wonderful day at The Grove. I can't help hoping that we'll still be taking family photos with Santa for many years to come. At least until the kids get married. You don't think they'll be too embarrassed do you?