December 14, 2013 by Colleen Morris
It’s a 10-min drive with easy indoor self-parking at the Stamford Town Center Mall. Just remember to bring a few quarters for meter!
Last week at the mall, I started off at Starbucks ordering a Mocha Peppermint Latte, then hit up the holiday sales at Williams Sonoma, Stride Rite, JCrew and the Gap for a few Christmas gifts. Once my knuckles turned white, I dropped off all the bags in my SUV then continued onto round 2 at Barnes & Noble (Starbucks there too!), Pottery Barn and the Apple store. I only go during the week in the morning when there are zero lines and crowds. Makes holiday shopping a breeze when you want a break from online!
#9. Driving my SUV
Yes, I drove to the end of my street every day this week to bring my Kindergartner to the bus stop. It was COLD! He happily got out and romped around in the snow with the neighborhood kids while waiting for Louie, our favorite bus driver. My 3 year old scarfed down her granola bar breakfast and vanilla flavored milk in the back seat. And I had my driver’s seat butt warmer — and Elvis Duran and The Morning Show both cranked up high.
Plus the car obviously comes in handy for all the extra holiday crap you lug around this time of year like gingerbread houses, wrapping paper, endless bottles of wine, Christmas presents, gallons of eggnog, frozen turkey’s, snow boots, and door wreaths!
#8. My Backyard
Tuesday was our first snow day of the school year. By afternoon, there was enough snow for kids to build a snowman, make snow angels and have a snowball fight! I opened my back door and out they went into the clean fresh white powder. They came in and out to periodically warm up and sip hot cocoa. I peered out through the window while sipping my coffee and checking my Facebook. Welcome to parenting in the burbs!
#7. Santa Claus
It was our second year in a row going to McArdle’s in Greenwich during the town’s weekly Holiday Stroll. First off, you get an up-close view of live Reindeer, which my kids really love. And parents will love the relatively short wait and professional photographer to capture that precious (or not so) moment of your little ones sitting on an authentic looking real white bearded Santa. Then shop till your heart’s content for Christmas ornaments, garland, trees and wreaths. Followed by a horse and carriage ride up Main Street. On your way back, listen to Christmas carolers, pop into a few of Greenwich’s fashionable shops, and suck on Candy Canes while strolling about the Avenue.
#6. Festive Neighborhood Homes
I love Wednesday nights! After my son’s Kinder basketball, we drive around town looking at all the big beautiful homes decked out in white lights and big green wreaths and red bows. It’s very New England with all the stonewalls and snow capped trees.
There are also way more colorful attractions including a home called Wally’s Wonderland in Wilton, Midwood Road in Norwalk, and Paul Tudor Jone’s home near Belle Haven Club in Greenwich. The latter one apparently sets their Christmas lights to music! Hoping to check this one out during the kid’s holiday break.
#5. Christmas Tree Lighting’s
This year, we made it to our town’s Christmas tree lighting. A local band rocked out to Christmas jingles. And Santa arrived via firetruck and officiated the ceremony! It was a magical night.
This year, we’re also attending our friend’s front yard Christmas tree lighting. Rumor has that St. Nick will be stopping by for a more personal Ho, Ho, Ho and to pass out holiday coloring books to the kiddies! A very merry holiday party celebrating the Christmas spirit with good friends on a snowy winter day sounds perfect. What more can you ask for?
#4. The Nutcracker
In our attempt to make this an annual family tradition, we are going to see the Nutcracker at the Darien Arts Center again this year. The $10 ticket includes one kid and adult admission to see a family friendly one-hour ballet production. They put mats down right up front for children to sit on or kneel during the festive show. It is a favorite holiday book in our house, and my kids and I love seeing the story come to life. My daughter is especially looking forward to seeing the Sugar Plum Fairy dance around!
#3. Christmas Tree Farms
I’ll be honest. We still have our Walmart purchased pre-strung fake tree up in the new home. It’s looking a little pathetic as the middle strands of lights no longer twinkle. And the tree is rather narrow and very tall which suited our Brooklyn loft perfectly. But in the new house, it looks way too skinny in our big open space and the tree top hits our ceiling. So the poor Angel sits on a branch about a foot down.
After hearing about how fun it is to search and chop down your very own Christmas tree, I need to experience this for myself with the fam next year for sure! Plus I’d pay money to see my husband saw down and carry a tree back to the car. I’m thinking National Lampoons Christmas Vacation tree for next season hopefully minus the sap and squirrel!
I’ve heard several families recommend Jones Family Farm a 400-acre working farm in Shelton, Connecticut.
#2. More Space
I really appreciate the extra storage in our closets and basement to quickly hide all the Christmas presents. Now that my son is over 5 ½ years old, he’s definitely more aware of the boxes being delivered, shopping bags coming in the door, and wrapping paper scraps dropped by mistake. Luckily, I have the space to properly tuck away the gifts and no one is the wiser yet this year.
I also can take out all of my Christmas decorations without it looking too tacky and crammed! We have porcelain angels, a Santa, a sleigh, three glass bears, advent calendar house, numerous holiday candles, garland, stockings, kid-made paper Christmas trees, a Hallmark dancing snowman, musical Santa Snoopy and two snow globes. I finally have enough space to spread out our ever-growing holiday décor.
And yes folks the saying is true, you do accumulate more in the burbs! Since we have more room to spare in our new home, I decided we could get the items that we just didn’t have the space for in the city. Santa has already brought a large comfy chair, ottoman, and kid-sized rocker for the nursery, and will be delivering an art easel to complete my daughter’s arts & craft area in the playroom. Just need a reminder every now and then to keep it all organized. With that said, I ordered some cute green milk crates from Land of Nod to store the impending Christmas toys!
#1. Our Fireplace
As a kid, I grew up with a real wood-burning fireplace in our house. I loved the smell, listening to the crackling logs and warming up my backside. We hung our stockings there. And left the milk & cookies for Santa and his reindeer on the hearth. It was a magical centerpiece in our family room.
In our new home, we are fortunate enough to have two gas-burning fireplaces. While I miss the real smell of wood burning, I have to say I use the gas ones all day. With a flip of a switch, we have real flames igniting over real-looking logs. The kids come down in the morning and warm up their bums against the glass. We play sappy holiday music on Pandora all day while starring endlessly at the wavering flames. We decorated our mantle with my son’s Gingerbread house and red candles trimmed with holly. It’s my favorite thing about our new house. And the kid’s are very excited for Santa to come in through the chimney this year.
May you all have a very Merry Christmas wherever you are this season!
Colleen, Brooklyn to the Burbs