Cleveland should really start to market itself as a major Christmas tourist destination.  Between our fluffy snowfalls, myriad of festivals, movie landmarks, and museums – we have a lot to offer to the Christmas connoisseur.

This weekend we visited Ormandy’s in Medina, as my husband wanted to get a Lionel Polar Express train set to put under our tree.  I had no idea this errand would put us in the middle of a holiday wonderland.

Stepping foot on the square was like venturing back in time.  Cute shops and restaurants with tempting aromas are tucked all along the sidewalks.  There is a massive tree, festively decorated, holding down the adorable gazebo.

My daughter steered me into Circles on the Square, where we found fresh doughnuts smartly decorated with “Elsa” sprinkles.  Then the used book store delighted her and my wallet, followed by a joyful discovery that the popcorn shop was also filled with candy.

Finally, we strolled past Castle Noel.  I knew nothing about it but we quickly decided to tour it, thinking it’d be something we could do at our own pace.

Three hours and one very thrilling slide down a mountain later, we were exhausted but enthused at all of the movie memories, nostalgic toys, and awe-inspiring window displays inside. 

The ability to stay present served me well as we stood in lines, shuffled through displays, listened to tour guides, and finally made that thrilling climb up to see Santa.

My kids are very young but they found something exciting at almost every turn.  In areas where they didn’t, or needed to move and spend some energy, I didn’t feel any hesitation to let them down to explore (closely supervised).

Kids are kids no matter where you are.  They have the same needs whether it’s in your living room or at the park.  

Almost everyone you meet will have experience with young children and understand this.  Sometimes you may need to quietly step out with your kids, sometimes you may need to let them sit on the floor if they’re tired, sometimes you may need to find a space where they can move and be silly.

Parents of toddlers and children under seven know that these are the most important, formative years.

We are exhausted but still have the heavy responsibility of gently guiding our kids, building their confidence and knowing when to encourage autonomy
and when to hold a hand.

So the next time you see a little boy or girl run past your knees, give them a warm smile and thank them for reminding you that life is meant to be lived, fully enjoyed, without any pretending that we’re someone other than who we truly are.

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