Every year, the holidays get crazy and blow by in a flash. Many of us find ourselves staring at the January on the calendar in disbelief, wondering what in the world just happened. We’ve been rushing through the last six weeks of the year, every year, and then when we hit the drudgery of January, it feels as if we might have overdone it.
This year, with a baby due at the end of December, it was particularly important to me that we take some time to really slow down and enjoy the season. I have been tempted for several years to take a trip to the YMCA Trout Lodge for their family holiday weekend, and we finally decided to try it.
This year, the theme was Nutcracker Christmas and took place over the first weekend in December. When checking out the rates, we quickly discovered that it made a lot of sense to find some friends who wanted to join us and stay in a cabin rather than the lodge. The cabins have a large living room and a screened-in porch, making it ideal for families with kids.
Our cabin also had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, which was great for us and another family with small children. The kids played, dodging between the common areas and the bedrooms in elaborate games of hide-and-seek, and my friend and I visited comfortably while our husbands ducked out for a short round of golf.
We were happy to hang out at our snug cabin, but there was much to do outside. My 5-year-old daughter was eagerly anticipating an opportunity to have tea with Mrs. Claus at the lodge on Sunday morning. Our husbands took our kids to play mini golf, and my older kids enjoyed a fun time trying out archery on Saturday afternoon. Decorating Christmas cookies, holiday face-painting and gingerbread house construction were also activities we participated in.
What pushed me over the edge from experiencing mild satisfaction with our stay to enthusiasm about a repeat visit, however, was the meals. I loved having all three meals served in the lodge. While we all felt a little like we spent the entire weekend eating, the break from planning and preparing meals made it more of a vacation than any other I’ve taken since we’ve had kids.
Though there was an abundance of fried food, I still found it pretty easy to help my kids find good choices. There was a good selection of fruits and vegetables, plus a variety of ice-cold milk options available at every meal. Though all of the adults wondered at the absence of the ice cream machine so often found at buffet-style eating establishments, as a mom it is sometimes a relief when dessert is not the center of attention.
When we look back on the Christmas season of 2011, I’m sure our time at Trout Lodge will be a bright spot in our memories. It was a fun weekend, in which there was much to do, but no requirements for doing anything at any certain time. It was a great combination of relaxation and festivity.