Dollywood Christmas

My first assignment for the CSM Blog: Our trip to stay at the Dollywood Dreammore Resort in Pigeon Forge, TN and visit the Dollywood Theme Park to enjoy the lights and the season's activities.  I wanted to capture the magic of the lights, wonder of the decorations, excitement of seeing Santa and the precious family time.
My vision of wonder and magic quickly shifted to a story of perseverance and gratitude.

Things didn't go quite as I had envisioned (we are after all like a traveling circus).  My youngest is going through a rough phase and so we were met with protests from him every time I turned around.

Saturday morning we enjoyed breakfast with Santa, and his very kind Elves (which I highly recommend):

He stopped by our table and asked the boys what they wanted for Christmas, and they discussed in great detail their lists.  Then Santa took a moment to talk about the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus and he even talked about why it's so important to obey your parents (thanks Santa!!).

Then we headed out for a full day at the park filled with riding roller coasters, lots of treats, cookie decorating, and super cool Christmas decorations 
(I especially loved the retro decorations!)...

We made it back to the hotel late in the afternoon and grabbed a bite to eat.  We were all SO tired that we decided not to go back over to the park to see the magical millions of lights and the Christmas Parade (and mingle with an intimate crowd of 15,000 plus).

We settled in.
Boys had a hot bath.
Christmas pajamas on.
Then it happened.  

William (7) woke up and had thrown up all over the floor in their room!  

Any mother knows the crazy-eyed, adrenaline rush of securing the scene of a Code Red throw up scenario.  

I was up and in action:  Children removed, cleaned and deposited in our bed with Aaron.  Once the scene was contained, two kind souls answered my call for help from the Dreammore Housekeeping staff. I was mortified at the scene, not to mention the SMELL.  They walked in with smiles on their faces and were so kind.  They worked for an hour to help clean and sanitize. All the while merrily chatting with me about their families, their jobs and reassured me over and over that this happens all the time.  I scrambled together all the cash I had to tip them and thank my new friends Jo and Willy.

I am so grateful for their kind hearts, and for their joyful attitudes while helping me clean up. I am thankful for Santa's very purposeful message about Christmas.  There are hundreds of people employed at Dollywood and the Dreammore with families and dreams, I am grateful for them.  Thank you to these folks, I know it is their job, but by golly they do it in a way that is a blessing to so many.  

The magic of Christmas on this trip was not in the millions of twinkling lights and super cool parade, the magic showed up in the words and kindness shared by these amazing people!  I enjoyed our family time together, we are a mess, but I would not have it any other way.
Embrace the magic of kindness this year!!    
Merry Christmas Folks!