Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Carolina Christmas

Oh boy - yesterday afternoon and evening cemented a new Peeler Family Christmas tradition: enjoying the Carolina Christmas events at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. 


While eating lunch yesterday, I told the boys that we were going to pick up Daddy from work, have a special dinner out, and then see hundreds and hundreds of Christmas lights. Grady Lee, in complete seriousness, looked at me and said, "I sure better take a nap, Mom! That sounds like a lot of fun and I'll need to have a lot of energy for our busy night!" And, an hour later he was sound asleep.

That afternoon, the kids and I drove to Uptown to pick up Grady from his office. The boys are always excited when we drive by all "the tall buildings" and they ask question after question:

- "Is Jesus taller than these buildings?"
- "What would happen if one of these buildings fell over?"
- "How did the crane get way up in the sky to put the windows on the building?"
- "Which building is the one that belongs to Daddy?"

Note to self: next time we need to get out of the house and do something free and fun, I'm taking the boys for a drive in Uptown. Apparently looking at tall buildings and city buses are all they need for entertainment.

Grady was outside waiting for us promptly at 4:30 and we headed a few miles north of the city for a fast food dinner. Grady asked the boys where they wanted to go, and the standard answer of "a place with hamburgers and french fries" was given. 

By 6:00, dinner was done, the sky was dark, and we were off for a drive through Carolina Christmas. The boys couldn't wait. "Will there be millions and millions of lights, Daddy?" "We can't touch the lights, right? We don't want to break one and make them all go out, right?" "Will Santa be there too?"

As we entered the Speedway, we drove through a flashing tunnel of lights and tuned our radio to Christmas music that was timed to the light show happening throughout the drive
Various parts of the Speedway were set up as different things: North Pole, Rudolph, Winter Wonderland, Carolers, Patriotic America, etc. The boys had fun calling each thing out as they noticed it... usually several minutes after Grady and I had already observed it and tried to point it out to them.
The traffic was light and we could take our time without feeling rushed, or we could speed up without having to wait in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Early evening on a Monday was the perfect time to go.
Okay, don't judge. Yes, this is a picture of Annalyse on my lap in a moving car. I promise we were only going 15ish MPH and she was crying. It's hard to enjoy beautiful music and a light show with a wailing infant.

The interesting (and terrifying) thing, however, is that seemingly out of no where the light show ended we were directed up onto the actual race track. Grady guns it - meaning, zero to 55 in as little time as the old Dodge Caravan could do it. 

He was smiling and laughing and saying how cool it was to be driving on the racetrack. I, however, was clutching the door with one hand and clutching Annalyse with the other hand and yelling that we were about to tip over. I'm serious. Until you drive on the severe slant of a racetrack curve you don't understand. It really and truly felt like we were going to tip over.

Ordinarily I would have enjoyed the adventure, just not while holding my baby and not while in the family minivan. Micah was giddy and laughed the whole time saying, "We're going super fast Daddy!" Grady Lee piped up from the backseat and asked if we went "as fast as Lighting McQueen drives." 
With the adrenalin pumping, me out of fear and Grady out of anticipation of doing the drive again, we parked and got out to explore the Christmas Village.

The boys toured lots of "super fast race cars that go faster than even Daddy can drive!"
The boys also got to sit on Santa's lap. Grady Lee had no hesitation and climbed right on jabbering away about what he wanted for Christmas. Micah would only sit on Santa's lap if Grady promised to hold his hand the whole time. Annalyse was sound asleep so it wasn't worth the hassle to get her out of the stroller and propped on Santa's lap too.
Lots of beautiful trees, yummy smells of hot cocoa and baked goods, and festive Christmas music. I love how the simple sight of lights makes my boys squeal with delight. The simple things of Christmas are still very fun for them - and I hope it stays that way for several more years.
Next up, we wandered through a petting farm. I'm pretty sure I had more fun that anyone else in my family. I'm dorky that way - I get excited over the tickle of a goat's lips and the fuzzy feeling of sheep wool. The boys were too nervous to touch the llamas. I tried to explain that a long time ago I rode one in another country because we didn't have a car. Grady Lee just looked at me as though I was nuts.
And, just in case you think Annalyse missed out on all the fun, she did decide to wake up for part of it. Snuggled warm in her blanket, she was all smiles taking in the sights and sounds.
Onward to Bethlehem. Grady Lee was convinced this really was Bethlehem. "That is the old building where Baby Jesus was born!" I guess he didn't make the connection that Bethlehem consisted of fake walls in the middle of a larger-than-life racetrack.

A soldier met us at the entryway and fake fire was burning in the lanterns. Grady Lee was captivated!
Shepherds and Wise Men surrounded Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. They were all singing Christmas carols. My boys had no interest in stopping to look - they were all about seeing and touching the camels!
I have no idea who this lady is, but I watched her repeatedly try to kiss - yes kiss- the camel. After several tries, the camel reached out and puckered up. My boys haven't stopped talking about her since. "Remember the lady who kissed the camel? That was very dangerous, right Mom?"
After freezing our way through Bethlehem, we stopped by the fire to get warm. Because the boys were busy staring at the fire, they didn't seem to notice the others around them making smores. Lucky Grady and I didn't have to deal with the potentially sticky mess.
After two hours of lights and animals and other Christmas fun, we called it a wrap and packed up to head home. There was still lots to see and do... a craft in Santa's workshop, ice-skating, sleigh rides, and lots of yummy food to try. Good thing we have next year to look forward to...


  1. Wow!! Ok you've sold me on going now - hope that it will be up after Christmas as it seems our days are full until then! Glad you guys had such a wonderful time!

  2. This is so on our Christmas fun list this year too. We are hoping to make it later this week, or maybe next. It looks like you all had a blast!

  3. It looks like SUCH a fun evening! I'm surprised it wasn't crowded, but so glad you got to enjoy everything at your own pace! The ride on the racetrack sounds hilarious! And I love reading all of the questions your boys ask, priceless!!! As for the woman kissing the camel...eeewwww!