Sunday, November 28, 2010

Polar Express

by Chris Van Allsburg

I’m joining Jain at Food for Thought, her wonderful blog for people who love both the written word and the foods mentioned within the books.

I’m also joining Beth's Poinsettia Party at her beautiful Food as Art blog.

Her party runs from Dec. 5th through the 15th, so won't you please pop over & join her, too?

The Polar Express is the magical story of one Christmas Eve many years ago.
A boy lies in bed, listening hard for the bells of Santa’s sleigh,
which he has been told by a friend do not exist.
Later that night he hears not bells but a very different sound.
He looks out of his window and is astounded to see a steam engine parked in front of his house.
The conductor invites him to board the Polar Express,
a train filled with children on their way to the North Pole.
The boy and his companions journey past tiny towns and forests full of wild creatures.
They travel up and around mountains and across the Great Polar Ice Cap
to the magical city at the North Pole.
The train takes the children to the center of the city,
where Santa and the elves have gathered for the giving of the first gift of Christmas.
The boy is chosen to receive this first gift.
Knowing that he can choose anything in the world,
he decides on a simple gift: one silver bell from Santa’s sleigh.
Santa cuts a bell from a reindeer’s harness and
the delighted boy slips it into his bathrobe pocket
as the clock strikes midnight and the reindeer pull the sleigh into the sky.

When the children return to the train,
the boy realizes the bell has fallen through a hole in his pocket.
Heartbroken, he is returned to his home.
In the morning, his little sister finds one small box
with the boy’s name on it among the presents below the Christmas tree.
Inside is the silver bell!
The boy and his sister are enchanted by its beautiful sound,
but their parents cannot hear it.
The boy continues to believe in the spirit of Christmas and
is able to hear the sweet ringing of the bell even as an adult.

We took our whole family on the Polar Express excursion a few years ago on Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, one of the oldest, longest & most scenic tourist excursion railways in the country.
It is a private, volunteer supported, non-profit organization operating in partnership with Cuyahoga Valley National Park & dedicated to the preservation of passenger rail transportation in Cuyahoga Valley and the Historic Ohio & Erie Canalway.

Each year, starting around Thanksgiving, they offer tickets,
via a lottery system,
for the Polar Express train ride experience.

Pajama clad families board the Cuyahoga Valley train for this magical Polar Express journey!
This fun-filled evening excursion includes hot cocoa & cookies, a reading of the classic story,
a lighted North Pole Village, caroling & a visit from Santa himself -
all set to the music soundtrack of the motion picture!


Our train car's Elf was named 'Emily'. She was there to apply pink fairy dust to everyone's cheeks.


You can just imagine the scene when the conductor walks through the station,
with his lantern swaying, looks at his pocket watch then starts
calling out in a very loud booming voice


The kids are literally dancing with excitement!

They can barely settle down to listen to the story after they

are told that Santa will be meeting up with the train soon.

Looking for Santa

After the reading of the Polar Express story & while the train is still moving,

the children have a
Pajama Party Parade

up & down the aisles & are then treated to

hot cocoa & homemade cookies from the elves.

Once Santa comes on board, each child gets to sit on his lap &

tell him what they would like for Christmas.

They are each given a little keepsake bell, in keeping with the story line.

DSC_0264 framed

We bought a souvenir Polar Express mug to commemorate the excursion &
every year I get it out to enjoy some tea or hot chocolate while we read the book to the
Here it is arranged with my poinsettia Christmas teapot (Thank you, sisters!)
on a little table in the sunroom.

This shows a close up of my free motion quilting on this little table runner that I made a few years ago.
I used gold metallic thread, a metallic needle, dropped the feed dogs &
then I just followed the lines in the poinsettia flower.
It gave the runner a nice touch of bling...I do bling, especially at Christmas!

DSC_0267 DSC_0271

Here is a little hint...if you place one Dove chocolate in the bottom of the cup before you pour in the hot liquid, it makes for an especially decadent treat!

Look at the snow we had overnight!!
Perfect day to snuggle down with a book, a quilt & a cup of hot cocoa.

Be sure to try the elves Merry Mint Patties, too...only available at Christmas & DELICIOUS!!!


I used my embroidery machine to do the little Christmas tree on this hemstitched towel,
then threaded the narrow silk ribbon through every other opening, using a bodkin.

The Polar Express reminds children and adults alike that the world is full of wonder—
all one must do is look for it, listen, and believe.
If you ever get a chance to go on a Polar Express excursion with your children or grandchildren,
I highly recommend it.
The kids still talk about it every year.
Maybe its not too late to put our names into the lottery again this year?
Do you think the 14 year old grandson will still want to go, too?


  1. Aggh! Just typed a long reply and lost it! I love this post! The Polar Express is our familys all time favorite. I was homeroom Mom for my oldest in first grade and we did the whole class Christmas party around this. I made cute little bell necklaces for each child to go home with too! It was such fun! This train ride is wondeful. I had to share this with my Mr. and he and I agree this must be so exciting for those children.

    I love your choc. treat in your cup. My BFF just revealed this little trick to me the other week. She told me she always has one hersheys kiss in her coffee cup each day. She lets it wittle down over several cups. I never knew!
    Finally I love your tea towel. I still want to get a machine very badly but will have to wait on that. I have figured out which machine I want I think. There is a place that sells machines and gives classes too so that what I'd like to do one day!
    Your do such beautiful work!

  2. I loved everything about this post! I love the book and the film Polar Express...and the music too. Your trip with the kids is something they will remember all of their special!

    Your sweet tablescape...perfect and as always I'm so amazed by the items you made. So fun!

  3. I've lost count of the number of times I've bought this book for children in the family and for the children of friends. It's timeless - a family treasure.
    Wouldn't I love to sit down for hot cocoa with you! Your Christmas table linens are so pretty.

  4. oh i am so happy you did this book, i thought of it a few days ago and wanted to drive to the snowy mountains for a train shot! now i can sit inside warm and cozy and travel the rails with you :) how exciting you won the lottery!

    what a special journey indeed... don't you love that others offer up such fun! what a magical trip for kids... and grownups!

    a darling mug too, and such fun family memories forever more~ i love your whole little tea set, so cute and pretty with your gold stitches. your poinsettia quilting looks wonderful. i am definitely doing that dove trick :)
    i can't believe you made the merry christmas, egads you are talented! i am dumbstruck really... it is all so beautiful!

    thank you so much for sharing the polar express, i think i remember you shared this once before, because its like a fantasy come true to kids and i remember thinking how lucky you all were to have such a special journey, unless i am crazy!

    thanks so much for playing at food for thought, i have missed you and you came with not one, but two fabulous books! i hope you can keep playing all december, i love seeing what you are reading~

  5. Rett, this is one of my favorite books. What fun that you won the lottery! Those sweet little grandkidlets will always have fond memories of this train ride. Beautiful post, dear friend. You are amazing with all your talents. The tea towel is so sweet, and that cup of hot chocolate with a bite of Dove chocolate looks delicious. I'll try this neat trick. ~ Sarah
    And the lock of hair ~ it belongs to my sister-in-law. She had extremely long hair when I first met her. I recall the day she had it cut off. She kept a lock. I was impressed with myself that I actually remembered she had done this, but was equally impressed that she knew exactly where it was. Funny the little things in life tha stay with us. LOL

  6. Great post and thanks for sharing your ride on the Polar Express with us all. Graham and the twins will be going on the PE up in N. Conway NH next weekend. They are beyond excited. I only wish I could have made them their jammies but you can't do everything, sigh.....

  7. What a magical ride this post was~ Fairy dust on the cheeks, snow, chocolate in a cup & a bit of bling! I'll have to try a piece in my cup to boost the chocolate factor~

    Love your teaset & runner :-)

  8. I would love to be able to take the Polar Express holiday excursion. Wow. What a magical Christmas event for children (and adults)!!!

  9. Hi Rett.

    They also run this excursion in Nelsonville in southern Ohio. My brother's family is going. The Polar Express is my very favorite holiday movie. It makes me feel like a little girl again.

    Merry Christmas! La (Marion, Ohio)

  10. I love this post! The Polar Express is one of our favorites! We were supposed to go this weekend to North Carolina to go on it with our neighbors, but just weren't up to the 4 1/2 hour drive after doing the 8 hour drive to and from Tn. last weekend and the 6 hour drive and back to Disney in two weeks and then back to Tn. the week after that! We will have to do the Polar Express next year! That trip had to be absolutely magical!!!

    I like to put a little bit of peppermint extract (or schnapps if I am feeling sassy!) in my hot chocolate!

    The snow is beautiful! I do miss seeing it!

  11. You touched my heart with this one Rett. The author of Polar Express is from the same area as I grew up. I remember going to Herpolsheimers (mentioned in the movie) at Christmas. They had a train that was mounted on the ceiling of the lower level of the department store and children would ride in it as it hovered above the large toy department. The train is now in the public museum in Grand Rapids Michigan. Thanks for bringing a memory of my childhood back to me with your Polar Express ride.

  12. The snow came at the right time as you enjoy your hot chocolate.
    I am really lovin' that cream and sugar set.

  13. What a fun post! All my children have had a Polar Express Party at their school -- but it couldn't possible compete with the real thing. I loved the elf and the conductor. I love this book and the movie as it is such a "quiet" film. I CAN still hear the bells ring! Your poinsettia placemat is just beautiful as well as your poinsettia tea set. Love the PE mug too! What a fun thing to have! I am going to try the chocolate in the bottom. Another weird thing we have noticed is that hot chocolate made with non-microwaved water is so much better. Joni

  14. This is a beautiful post, Rett! I love the movie The Polar Express. It is truly magical! What a fun experience you and your family had. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Also love your quilted table runner and your poinsettia teaset. Beautiful! Thanks for joining the Poinsettia Party, Rett!
    Hugs, Beth

  15. It is a great experience for all the young...and a wonderful experience for us olden moms and memaws to share time with those we love and see how much fun they are having.


Thank you so much for leaving a comment. I read them all & each one is so very special to me & I try really hard to return the visit!