What does a family of New York (once or twice removed) Jews do when Chanukah falls right around Christmas? We carve out some family time. You can’t have a Chanukah party two weeks before Chanukah starts because waiting for the first night will be an eternity for the kids. It is bad enough that they couldn’t wait so they filled their Chanukiah‘s with candles already even though the first candle won’t be lit for another week. So, we were invited to the Cape to check out the John Carver Inn and Edaville, USA. and scheduled a weekend together just the four of us. Family time is hard to come by these days. Even though, I am a stay at home mom and my husband works in town, we are usually just ships passing in the day and night. We are lucky if we can break bread together as a family once or twice a week.
As a child growing up, I always knew how important it was to sit together and have a family meal. My brother and I both had busy schedules, and I know we didn’t have dinner together every night, but we always had meals together on weekends and on as many nights as possible. As a parent, I feel that what I know to be best for my family has to be attained in a modified way. So we drove a couple of hours to get away, relax, play, and break bread as a family.
The problem with some vacations is that you spend almost as long planning, and packing and traveling as you do “vacationing”. The great thing about a mini-vacation on the Cape is that it doesn’t take that long (in the Winter) to get to your destination. I am not a fan of crowds so the Cape in the winter is idyllic. The John Carver Inn & Spa had everything we needed. A great pool for the kids to play in, a spa for me to relax in, and a several nearby activities, and attractions for us to enjoy as a family.
Edaville‘s Christmas Festival of Lights is a sight to see. I don’t think I could drive there just for Edaville, but it’s definitely an experience to be had in New England at least once. We got there a bit early so we drove around and were fascinated with the deep red fields that were cranberry bogs. Edaville USA has that old New England, “back in the day”, kind of feel. The entry ticket includes a train ride through the night in a heated narrow gauge train. The landscape has more than seven million holiday lights both still and animated sprinkled over the landscape of the two mile round trip. The entry fee includes all the classic, “old school”, carnival rides, but the games are three dollars each. There is the scent of fried dough and popcorn in the air. Nothing tempted us. A few people were inside grabbing a bite to eat, but I think they really just wanted to get out of the bitter cold air. Only in New England with the wind whipping at our faces do you see families out in the freezing night bundled up with pink cheeks nestled on scarves zooming by on the tilt-a-whirl or gliding up and down on the ferris wheel. This is a night when you appreciate hot chocolate. The children loved all the lights and the trains.
As a Jew growing up in a mostly Christian environment, I definitely felt like I was back in my home town twenty years ago. There was one menorah in the lit up landscape. It was nice, but I really didn’t feel it was necessary. The children know about Christmas, they celebrate it at Grandma’s but they don’t live the whole Santa and elves fantasy. It didn’t matter though. They loved all the lights and decorations. They’re magical to the children and their reactions bring back the magic to us as adults. This is a side of Christmas that anyone could enjoy. Even though we celebrate Chanukah I still remember as a child being certain that I heard Santa and his sleigh fly over our house on Christmas or around Christmas time anyway.
After a couple of hours, it was nice to hop into the wind-free car and head over the to the hotel and the Hearth ‘N Kettle for dinner and a quiet evening by the fire. And what I mean by quiet evening by the fire is that the gas was light in the fire place and the kids had quieted from jumping on the beds to giggling and making a tent with the sheets by crawling under them and kicking their feet in the air. Eventually the excitement from the trip to Edaville, having a night in a hotel, and hearing carolers at dinner dissipated and all was quiet until morning where a new adventure awaited.
The morning included a generous breakfast at the Hearth ‘n Kettle, a spa treatment (one of the best massages I have had – Thanks Chandra), playtime in the Mayflower themed pool and water play area for daddy and the children, and a short trip down to Hyannis for our next night of holiday enchantment at the Cape Codder. As part of our package, we stayed at both the Cape Codder and the John Carver Inn and had our meals at the Hearth ‘n Kettle.
For more on the classic New England Christmas experience, look for upcoming articles on the Hearth ‘n Kettle Restaurant and a night at The Cape Codder.
Bonne vacances. ttyl your BFF (Boston Family Foodie)