With blankets, chairs and snacks packed, we hiked into Leo Carillo Ranch's Christmas one-weekend wonderland. I had seen signs for it for months, and Lukas still gets in free this year. AAaaaannd they have pony rides. Let's go!
It's the place we visited earlier this year with tons of peacocks, broken ranch fences and old historical buildings. On the night, there were singers and dancers performing their group recitals for the year. There were lots of free crafts, including candy cane reindeer and citrus snowmen. We got to see a tree lighting next to a swimming pool (apparently there were some pretty wild Hollywood parties there in the olden cinema days) complete with a Santa for taking pictures. He had a cowboy hat and vest. After all this was a ranch. Lukas shouted out: Look at the pirate Santa! Nice. LOL. And after watching the performances for the second time (our child completely captivated by the singers and dancers). You'll know which picture is him seeing the Grinch for the first time. He didn't want to leave but he wasn't getting any closer.
My favorite part was watching him ride the donkey with antlers. "Just like Maria and Joseph" he said. He was happy to wait a little longer to get a turn on the only donkey instead of the plentiful ponies. Sweet boy. And when he antied up to go sit by Santa, it was the most hysterical sight. First of all, Jared and I weren't sure if "Pirate Santa" was a woman or a man. (Turns out it was indeed, a man.) Then, before it was Lukas' turn I told him, "Okay, the guy is going to ask you if you were a good boy this year" to which Lukas' eyes and mouth were wide and grinning. "Then he'll ask you if there's something special you want for Christmas. At the end you'll get a candy cane." That is, of course, his main reason for going over there to the Santa line. For Lukas, Santa is a fun story, just like Curious George, or the Cat in the Hat. It's fun for him to see people dressed up, but he's always quick to clarify that "there's a man inside there." So he went up and sat down. A big strap of jingle bells fell from the chair arm, and Lukas hopped down, went around to pick it up, put it neatly back in its place and sat himself back down by the Pirate Santa. When asked what he wanted for Christmas, Lukas just said, "Emmmmmm, ..... emmmmmm.... emmmm." And in my mind I could hear the familiar words, "Hurry up kid, the mall is closing. People are waiting." and then "A Football!" Meanwhile the man is asking him if he wants Spiderman toys, since it was the wish of the previous boy. Nope. In the end, Lukas wanted a candy cane, and with more thinking on the subject he decided a horse would be wonderful. A real horse. Upon which he could ride and use a whip. With further questions, we discovered that the horse would just roam around in Buena Vista Park since it wouldn't fit in our apt. or on our patio. You can see Lukas thinking next to Santa. Priceless this kid. Very modest. The thought of receiving endless gifts hasn't even crossed his mind. All in all, a very merry evening full of Christmas awesomeness and family togetherness.