Today, Alex and I went out to North Bend and rode the Santa Train to the Railway museum. On paper it is very nostalgic sounding and seems like a great adventure. I really do like old trains, and Alex has been indoctrinated by Thomas the Tank Engine, so it seemed like a must-do activity.
If you are seven years old, plus or minus a few years, the Santa Train is a pretty great deal. You get to ride a train through the countryside, get freshly made cookies and hot chocolate, see Santa, and get a free toy. Hard to top that, huh? It was a nice day, too. As a jaded, over-worked, single parent, the Santa Train is a different kind of experience. I suggested it to Alexander after trying to see it through his eyes, and of course he wanted to go. I went along and kept my mouth shut and he had a fun time.
For me, the best part was just hanging out with Alex and enjoying the beautiful day. The rest of it is a pretty blatant exploitation of parent's nostalgia and kids love of trains and Santa, all for a Roman and Norse holiday that was co-opted by the Holy Roman Church 300 years after Jesus died. For the parent, The Santa Train is $15 per ticket for a 20 minute, 3.5 mile ride on some "historic" (read: clapped out) wooden (in the same sense that my dry rotted fence is "wooden") rail cars. There a drive out to BFE to catch the train, a wait to get on the train, a wait to get off, a wait to get 2 tiny cookies, a wait to see Santa, a wait to get back on the train, a 20 min ride back to the car, another wait to get off of the train, then a drive back to civilization. Go ahead and call me Scrooge. Bah. The people at the railway museum mean well, old trains are cool, and in the larger sense of entertainment options in Seattle area, $30 to stand in line and ride on a ratty old train is a bargain. For me, this falls into the same category as going to The Fair. It should be cooler than it is, it is a hassle and waste of money, but we do it anyway and still enjoy ourselves. The Santa Train leaves every hour for several days in a row and every seat is sold out in advance. I guess we all want to experience the joy of Christmas from the point of view of our kids.