Well, it’s just over a week to go until Christmas! The house is decorated , the tree is up and most of the presents are bought. The one thing still left to do on the list was get the time-honoured picture with Santa.
Now, I fully admit, at Cat’s age, the photo with Santa is really for Mom and Dad, to put on a cute-sy Christmas card and send to friends and family. Most toddlers are absolutely terrified of Santa, and why wouldn’t they be. A large, imposing man with a crazy white beard and booming laugh asking them to come sit on his knee…heck, my child is reluctant to go up to a friend or relative she hasn’t seen in a few months!
Nevertheless, we attempted to go to the mall last weekend. It opened at 10am and World’s Greatest Dad insisted the line wouldn’t be too long. Well, naturally, it was a long, snaking line full of exuberant children and frazzled parents. The Sugar Plum fairy-costumed teenager informed us that from where we stood, it was at least an hour and a half wait. No thanks…not only would be we cutting into Cat’s lunch and naptime, but we didn’t want to waste precious family time on a weekend stuck in a mall, waiting for our 30 second visit with Santa that, frankly, was likely to end in a glowering Cat refusing to sit on his knee anyway.
I had heard about Bronte Creek Provincial Park’s “Homestead Christmas” and we decided to check it out the following weekend. We had been to Bronte Creek for the first time in the summer, and really were impressed with the beauty of the land itself (a natural oasis in the middle of a rapidly growing suburban region) and the activities for kids, notably the Children’s Play Barn, playground and petting zoo. They also offer camping facilities, hiking trails and a giant outdoor swimming pool.
Every December, they put on a Christmas themed event at their Spruce Lane Farmhouse (an original house built in 1899 resplendent in period furnishings and decor). Santa is also in residence at his ‘cabin’ on the homestead, so we figured this was a great opportunity to visit one of our favourite spots in our area, get some fresh air and (hopefully) have a quick visit with the jolly old man himself.
The park admission was $16 for the day. We drove in, parked and hauled out our trusty BOB Revolution jogging stroller (a friendly warning: please wear appropriate clothing if you’re going to a provincial park. The hiking trails are dirt and obviously get muddy…this is not the time to wear your cute riding boots ). There is a fair amount of walking involved, so if you have small kids, a sturdy stroller, baby carrier or sled (if there is snow) is recommended.
There was a wagon riding back and forth from the ice skating area to the homestead, but we opted to enjoy the fresh air and opportunity to get some exercise, so we walked.
Once there, we did a quick tour of the house (with its lovely smell of apples and cinnamon) before venturing out to see Santa. He was located in a small, wooden cabin, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when we entered, but wow…it was gorgeous! The cabin was warm and inviting, decked with a real tree, stockings and wreaths. The staff offered Scooter the chance to dress up in child-sized Victorian clothes for her picture, but since wrestling her into her winter coat is challenge enough, we politely declined. We then met Santa and WGD and I were suitably impressed with his realistic red suit, beard and kindly manner as he tried to initiate conversation with our daughter. Cat was a little less impressed, and clung to Mama, but that’s ok…no tears! The staff member took a whole bunch of pictures and thoughtfully saved all of them to a memory stick for us…not bad for the $5 fee!
From Santa, we went back outdoors to check out the turkeys and the pigs on the farm. We saw the “reindeer stable” but alas…no reindeer! It was starting to get a little windy outside, so we went back to the house and treated ourselves to fresh-baked sugar cookies (sooo sweet and moist…unbelievably good) and cups of hot apple cider for WGD and me.
From there, we went to another little wood building to wait for the wagon. I was pleasantly surprised once we entered the building that there were Victorian era games for the kids inside and staff who were more than willing to play! The time passed very quickly as Cat tried the ring toss, bean bag throw and and a few other games. The wagon soon showed up, we loaded the stroller and headed back.
Cat had so much fun that she passed out in the car seat about 5 minutes before we got home. She had a long, lovely nap that afternoon, which gave WGD and me time to wrap some presents while listening to Christmas music. If you ask me, that’s a better way to kick start the holidays than by standing in line at the mall 🙂
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