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A Family Holiday Recharge
I don't know about you, but the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be mighty stressful for me. It's like each activity to which we belong feels the need to cram everything into those precious three weeks before the schools' winter breaks, and I can't blame them. It's a special time of year. But, when you have multiple activities from dance to school choir to church orchestra, whew. It gets to be a lot. I know many of you feel me on this one. By the time Christmas rolls around, a lot of my joy and Christmas cheer is pretty well spent.
Much to my surprise, however, I have discovered that a little Thanksgiving getaway recharges my batteries enough so that I can power through the crazy holiday season more relaxed, with a better attitude and just a little more Christmas spirit. And, though we miss our extended family at Thanksgiving, it has been fun for the four of us to cherish some holiday time together, to bond over fun meals, and to make lasting memories.
We're Thankful for Beautiful Weather, Churros, and Dole Whip
Our first year of Thanksgiving travel was a trip to Disneyland. If you haven't done this, just go book your trip right now and thank me later. I promise, you'll have the time of your life! We had the trip planned for quite a while behind the kids' backs and ended up surprising them the night before we left. Talk about some priceless faces.
Disney properties can be quite busy during the holidays, but making good use of the Fast Passes and booking our Thanksgiving meal in advance helped us experience the park to the fullest. And, since Disneyland is a smaller park than Disney World, it is easy to manage in the amount of time we had for Thanksgiving Break (Wednesday - Sunday).
Some other perks to visiting Disneyland at Thanksgiving include gorgeous weather and special ride themes. Some of the park areas still have fall decorations, but a lot of it switches over to Christmas. The castle is decked out in garland, there is a giant tree at the start of Main Street, and they even make "snow" fall during the fireworks show.
We loved how some of the rides included Christmas themes, too. It's a Small World is one, as well as Jungle Cruise, a.k.a. Jingle Cruise. Our favorite was the Haunted Mansion that uses a Nightmare Before Christmas theme. It is brilliant.
We also loved the Thanksgiving character dinner. You've never seen a buffet the likes of which Disney can produce. There is a little something for every palette, and oh my goodness, the desserts. You might be tempted to skip the meal altogether.
There are also lots of characters to see, and you will have plenty of time to get your picture taken and your autograph books filled. Overall, Disneyland at Thanksgiving was a priceless experience for our family, and I would love to do it again sometime.
Accommodation: We stayed at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. It's an amazing hotel with direct access to Disney California Adventure Park for guests of the hotel. I think this is one of Disney's best efforts as far as resort hotels go. Just stunning.
Flights: We used points to book on Southwest Airlines into LAX. Cheap and easy.
We're Also Thankful for Sand and Palm Trees
Last year, we went for a different type of Thanksgiving getaway when we stayed at the all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. I wondered at the time how the kids would like this compared to their previous Thanksgiving trip. I mean, what could top Disneyland?! I was concerned that it might be a little too low-key for them, but I was wrong.
Yes, it was low-key, but they found plenty around the resort to enjoy. They loved the pools and the variety of restaurants. They liked being able to see the ocean and hear the waves all day long. Even the remnants of a hurricane didn't dampen our spirits. The rain did prevent us being able to eat at a couple of the beach-side restaurants, and we didn't get to take a boat ride to see Lands End like we would have liked, but we were thoroughly entertained at the resort.
The girls had pedicures while the guys enjoyed watching football and playing Xbox at the kid-friendly sports restaurant. Andrew even got to play Xbox soccer with an awesome staff member whose job seemed to be making sure the kids have fun. Pretty awesome job!
A highlight of our Cabo trip was swimming with dolphins at Cabo Dolphins just down the street from the resort. These amazing and gentle animals certainly made an impression on our kids. Not only did they get to feed, pet, and ride on the dolphins, but they also learned a lot about them and how they behave in the wild.
Our trip to Mexico was so much fun that we can't wait to stay in another all-inclusive Hyatt! There are Hyatt Zivas in Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Jamaica in addition to Los Cabos. Hmmm....maybe we'll have fish tacos again next Thanksgiving?
Accommodation: Rates can be high this time of year, so we were happy to use free night certificates that we had earned with Hyatt.
Flights: We flew Southwest Airlines into LAX the night before so that we could catch the once-daily morning flight LAX-SJD.
We're Thankful for Each Other
Getting out of town for a few day is always great. Since we have limited vacation days and have to work around school schedules when we travel, Thanksgiving break is a natural time for us to plan a vacations. We've found that it really sets the tone for the upcoming holiday season, and leaves us refreshed. Most of all, we're reminded that we're thankful for each other.
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How about you? Do you like to get away over Thanksgiving break?