Originally Published: December 15, 2014 6 a.m.
I have been to the North Pole, Dear Readers, and it is everything that I imagined! Yes, I had the pleasure of riding the Polar Express (Grand Canyon Railway) with my girlfriend and her grandson, and it was quite an enchanted adventure.
There were hundreds of children in pajamas and bathrobes, thousands of Christmas lights illuminating the night, a slow moving train filled with elves serving hot cocoa and cookies, plus a very jolly Santa merrily passing out bells from his sleigh.
It was worth it just to see the sense of wonder on the kids' faces. Most had never been on a train before. Some seemed frightened by the sheer spectacle of the whole thing. But as the train chugged along to a village of lights and Santa came aboard, all seemed to believe in the magic of the moment. There is nothing like a few hundred squealing kids to make you get in the mood for the holidays!
I was surprised to see so many parents acting like kids! Many adults were on the train, in the restaurants and at the Grand Canyon Hotel in their pajamas! No, I am not kidding. It is a little unsettling to see adults of all ages nonchalantly strolling around in robes and slippers! Hey, it's cute when the children are "in the spirit" and all looking adorable in velveteen bathrobes. But adults? Yikes, it was positively goofy.
I saw a middle-aged man with red plaid pajamas sitting on the train with his grandkids. If that wasn't bad enough, I was subjected to looking at a very large woman in her 60s walk around in the lobby of the hotel with pink pajamas and a red striped robe! Hey, if you're not a child, put some darn clothes on! It's freaky looking at so many adults in nighties.
I wasn't about to go to the Polar Express in my pajamas, because I have a child to keep an eye on, aged 5, who can run almost as fast as I can. I figured if I have to chase him (which I did a few times) around the railway station, I'm not about to be encumbered by a heavy robe or slippers. One poor gal was trying to catch her screaming 4-year-old and was slowed down by her long robe. Forget the robe! No, it takes boots (or sneakers) and jeans to outrun a child.
Pajamas do have their rightful place ... like at home in front of the fire. On the other hand, I guess some folks living in our communities enjoy walking around in their PJs, thinking that "no one will notice." A man in Williamson Valley emailed me to say that the highlight of his mornings is watching his neighbor lady go out and feed the horses in her pajamas. Okay, so maybe lots of folks go outside in their robes, fetching the paper, walking the dog, watering a plant, but usually it's done quickly and (hopefully) tastefully. But would you walk in a hotel lobby in your nightshirt? Please tell me no.
Perhaps it's the child in each of us that makes us want to be, if not for one special night, just one of the kids. In a fairytale setting, with a mystical charm, the story of Christmas unfolds in the faces of children sitting on a train, going to a village of lights. Out of the darkness, we come to the best-of-all-places - Santa's own home! Then, Saint Nicholas, boards the train and promises each child that every single wish can come true.
Oh heck, why not wear plaid pajamas? Maybe it's just the spirit of the holidays that makes us a little crazy and gets the children (and big kids) believing that they might actually hold the bell to a very important sleigh. When we journey to the North Pole, the usual attire is obviously not required. Do you have slippers, bathrobe and the desire to get in the "holiday mood?" Then "All Aboard" ... because the train is leaving the station.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor who lives in Skull Valley. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at email@example.com.