Last year we visited Heritage Farms for the first time on one very, very cold December Saturday morning. Just a short drive south of home, it was everything I had hoped and heard it would be, but it was cold!
This year we returned once again but squeezed even more joy out of every minute spent as we were able to extend our stay, see more of the place and enjoy warmer temps than we'd had here in a while. Word in the hood was that this sweet breakfast with Santa in the woods wasn't going to be happening again this year. So when the Facebook post popped up stating that they were indeed going to be taking reservations once again for weekends in December, I quickly put our names in for our one available Saturday of the month.
This year though, instead of snow and cold, there was warmer temps and FOG. We woke up to crazy thick fog that morning and my initial reaction was disappointment, as I was looking forward to getting my camera out of the house into some nicer temperatures again for some clear and bright pictures.
However, it turned out that the fog only added to the magic of it all, making us feel even more secluded from the rest of the world. And since the fog was so thick that we couldn't see the cabin from our horse-drawn ride past the frozen creek, it only added to the suspense of that moment when we finally approached that Christmas cabin and Santa's waving arms.
On the way there Brandon asked all sorts of questions. Would Santa's reindeer be there with him? If the reindeer weren't going to be there, how was he going to get home to the North Pole? Was an airplane going to take him back? I told him we didn't have those answers for him, but that this is what makes Christmas so special and magical. We don't need to have all the answers. We just have to believe.
And as we approached the farm, he got real quiet. "Mommy, I think I'm going to be shy."
Moments of our morning...
Upon arrival and while waiting for our trip to the cabin, we warmed ourselves around the fire, just like last year. Brandon rode the ponies, Jaden tried to feed the horses, and my dad was once again the horse whisperer himself. I swear he had a conversation going with one of them...
Brandon was so anxious to ride the ponies, but tried so hard not to show emotion once he got his turn...
This is the face. The face he makes when he's embarrassed by all sorts of attention directed his way.
The ride to the cabin. Much warmer than last year when we had to be huddled under blankets and could barely talk from being so cold! Brandon kept asking to go ice skating on the creek we passed by and loved the very tiny rickety bridge we crossed right as we approached the cabin.
Brandon wasn't kidding when he said he was going to be shy. We could hardly get him to come inside once we arrived, and Cody had to carry him in almost against his will. I think he would have been just as happy to stay by the fire and continue to throw sticks on the pile.
Once inside, we warmed up with Christmas carols played by piano, cinnamon rolls bigger than the boys' heads and cups of hot chocolate. In true Jaden fashion while waiting in the food line, he spotted the different colors of marshmallows offered for the hot cocoa and declared, "This is the best Christmas ever!" There is one way to that boy's heart. ;)
After eating, Jaden confidently went to Santa's lap and very business-like, told him his wish-list.
Brandon adamantly refused to sit on his lap until Daddy bribed him with the Christmas bells Santa was giving out to the good boys and girls. ;) We told him they were sleigh bells from the reindeer and he wouldn't get one if he didn't go say hi. "Oh fine..."
The second year in a row that I've had to take a spot on Santa's knee. This was as good as it got, folks. I told Santa that Brandon wanted a race car track, he gave him his coveted bell, and that was that. ;)
Once we got the talks with Santa out of the way, Brandon perked right up. In fact, he even requested a little photo shoot outside before the horses returned to pick us up and take us back to the farmstead.
We waved goodbye to Santa and returned by horse to the hay bales and animals and swings in the barn loft.
One of my favorite moments of the day had to be the boys and the one-month old baby bunnies. If only we could have taken them home with us. I've never seen the boys so gentle or calm or quiet! ;)
And there's that embarrassed look again... ;)
Another sweet holiday memory for the books.