We have two holiday traditions, or “Christmas Bucket List Activities” that I’m going to just go ahead and say are our favorite. They are family friendly. They are as free as you’d like to make them, and I look forward to them every year. Essentially they are the same thing but not really. This will all make sense in time. Take a look.
tradition #1 Medina, Ohio
Less than an hour north of us is the charming little town known as Medina, Ohio, with the world’s most charming historic downtown square. Seriously. Google “charming historic downtown square” and you’ll see this picture:
Ok, not really, but still. You get what I’m saying. Every year, we pack up the family and head to Medina to see all the cuteness in person. These trips are usually spur of the moment. Case in point: this year, we arrived at church no less than 35 minutes late. I was close to tears, so frustrated by our tardiness. Anyways. Sitting in the church parking lot, I turned to Mike and said, “Let’s just drive to Medina.” All hail Rebekah, queen of the nonsequiters! Anyways, Mike is a saint for indulging in these spur of the moment trips. So off to Medina we go.
Medina’s downtown square is actually shaped in a square, which is filled with an abundance of shops and restaurants. They always have their gazebo decked out for the holidays, with live Christmas trees sold right across from it, complete with a little fire pit and guys who stand around smoking cigars. It’s so classic I can barely stand it.
Last year, we “planned” the trip (and by planned I mean we left from our house, not from church), so I packed the kids lunch boxes to be enjoyed on the ride. This time, we were snack-less which gave us the opportunity to try out a new pizza place that had popped up on the corner.
We stopped in at the cozy little coffee shop across the way and got the boys cookies afterwards, before heading home.
On the way home, we stopped at a nursery that was in full holiday swing. They had trees out front, greenery for sale, and music piped outside for guests to enjoy.
And that is the thing I love the most about these kinds of trips. We never really plan anything other than the destination (and I try to have a rough idea as to how to feed the children). We show up, see what there is to see, and go wherever the wind blows. It’s fun and carefree and always feels like an adventure. Last year we didn’t spend any money on our trip to Medina apart from a quick stop at Starbucks for mom and dad. This year we bought lunch. Trips like these are flexible enough to work either way.
While we were on the square, I strolled around with Bea and snapped photos. Theo and Oliver played on a historic cannon (sorry historical society). Mike got to enjoy several work free hours. We were going to go into a few shops but the natives were restless so we ate instead. Everyone wins.
Tradition #2: Lake Anna, Barberton, Ohio
Ohhh. Lake Anna. This unsuspecting little town is a fantastic place to go at the holidays. Every year, at this lake in the heart of Barberton, Ohio, you will find a lights display to tickle even the biggest of skeptics. The lake is surrounded with displays. The houses that surround the lake are decorated to the nines. And one of the local business pumps holiday music out for all to enjoy.
Every time we go, we freeze to death. Last year, we weren’t dressed warm enough. This year, we were completely bundled up, but still unprepared for the snow storm that hit right as we rolled into Barberton. “Lake Anna should be lovely this time of year,” I said. “All that snow,” I said. Famous last words. Oh well. It’s was so fun.
I hope my kids look back with fondness and much laughter on these adventures. I hope they say, with a twinkle in their eye, “Remember those crazy trips mom used to make us go on?”
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions/Christmas bucket list actives? I’d love to hear from any other fellow Ohio-ans out there. Let me know if we need to come visit your town next year!