Happy Christmas Eve, eve!

It feels like I should say, “Man, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has really flown this year,” since I think I say that each year. But it’s especially true in these years when we’re on the short side of the holiday cycle. In those years where there are nearly five weeks between the holidays, I usually have a few days right before the Winter Solstice when I’m a little burned out on the whole holiday spirit thing. But this year I’m keenly aware that in just over two days I’ll be unchecking all the Christmas songs in iTunes, putting the movies away, erasing all the DVR recordings, and a week later getting the tree and decorations taken down and put away.

We tried to do something new over the weekend. We booked a family trip on a carriage ride around Monument Circle and through downtown Indianapolis. We went Sunday night and lucked out, as it was chilly but dry and windless.

We didn’t tell the girls where we were going, but on the drive down, we gave them a series of hints and they tried to guess. Which turned out to be pretty funny. They filled a notebook page with their guesses and M. tried to draw circles around them and make connections between them. They never really got close. But we told them just before we made it to the heart of downtown which got them very excited. And as we hit downtown traffic, we kept passing, and then getting passed by, a carriage at a series of red lights. They loved watching the horse, and decided that’s the carriage they wanted, as it was trimmed out in blue rope lighting.

When we got to our designated spot, sure enough, we got a blue-trimmed carriage. They thought the horse, named Aladdin, was really cool. And they enjoyed the 20-25 minute ride. I guess it being the last Sunday before Christmas outweighed the Colts playing in Dallas at the same time, because downtown was absolutely packed. The girls thought it was cool to see people stop and point at us, or take pictures as our carriage went by.

In addition to taking a lap of Monument Circle, we rode past the state capital building, down by Lucas Oil Stadium, then through the section of Georgia Street that was redone before the Super Bowl to have a central pedestrian mall area. It was filled with Christmas trees and ice sculptures, which the girls thought were great. They also thought it was very cool to drive by St. Elmo Steakhouse, a place they’ve heard about but never seen. We’ve taught them well because they all know about St. Elmo’s world famous shrimp cocktail.

It was a nice and fun way to spend a December evening. The girls immediately decided we have to make this a new holiday tradition. Which I’m down with, although I also realized we’re not too many years from the girls thinking our holiday traditions are dumb and they’d rather be doing something with their friends than spending a few hours downtown with their parents.

The traditional cookies and treats all got made over the weekend, too. My world famous hazelnut toffee chocolate chip cookies. Well, really Giada’s world famous hazelnut toffee chocolate chip cookies. The chocolate crinkles that tons of people make but the girls insisted we make as well. Pretzel treats with melted Hersey’s Hugs and M&M’s. And bags of “Reindeer Chow”; Chex cereal with melted chocolate and Nutella, sprinkled with powdered sugar and M&M’s. An entire corner of our kitchen corner is currently buried underneath all those sweets along with the other items our neighbors and friends have shared with us.

Elfie got in the act, too. On Saturday morning he was waiting for the girls inside our big mixer with a note saying “Let’s bake cookies!” He’s also been found drinking from a syrup container, sleeping under the Christmas tree, and riding our decorative sleigh with a stuffed reindeer attached by rope reins. This morning he has the girls super-sized Find Santa book laid out on the floor, with a bag of Hersey’s Hugs next to him. Interestingly enough, he picked the page where you are searching for Santa at the North Pole. I’m not sure the girls understand the significance of that, since on Christmas Eve morning he’s always perched on the mantle, waiting for his final trip home.

There’s lots of cleaning and other prep ahead of me in the next two days. So, in case this is the last post before the holiday, allow me to wish all of you the merriest of Christmases.

(One thing I forgot. One of the local radio conglomerates is headquartered right down in Monument Circle. As we drove through before we parked, I pointed that the Christmas music station was in that building.

“Oh,” said M., “is that why we have such good reception, because we’re right by the building?”

I think I laughed and muttered, “Sure.”

“I bet lots of people come down here to listen to the station because the reception is so good,” she continued.

I decided it wasn’t the time to explain FM radio propagation to her.)