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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Polar Express

Yesterday the first graders at the Tongginator's elementary school experienced its annual "Polar Express Day." That's when hordes of six- and seven-year-olds crowd into the first grade hallway, wearing pajamas, sipping hot cocoa and licking candy canes. Oh, and they also just so happen to listen to a faculty member read the classic holiday book The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.


The story enthralls them, but it's the candy canes that really leave a lasting impression. And the hot chocolate. You know, because they have cocoa mustaches with a hint of red at the corners. After reading the story, they shout loudly sing any and all secular (public school, y'all), kid-friendly Christmas carols, including the song Hot Chocolate from - y'all guessed it - the movie The Polar Express. They each receive a bell, which they precede to ring incessantly until dismissal.

Lucky me, I was tasked with taking photos of "Polar Express Day" for the yearbook. Fluorescent lighting? Check. Cramped, crowded area? Check check. Over-excited children with uncontrollable wiggling? Check check check.

I still managed to get one or two good shots. (Not this one, obviously.)

"Polar Express Day" has been around at our school since the book first appeared in libraries. It's one of my all-time favorite children's books, so of course it made my Christmas book list last year. Because everyone knows and loves The Polar Express. I think this just might be one holiday memory that stays with the Tongginator.

(And if you haven't read Chris Van Allsburg's recounting of his favorite Polar Express memory, shared with him by a fan, then you absolutely! must! click! over! to Amazon and scroll down just a tad until you see "Exclusive: A Letter from Chris Van Allsburg.) It's a tear-jerker. But only in a good way.)

Do y'all have a favorite Polar Express memory?

19 comments:

Mia_h_n said...

A favorite Polar Express moment? Uhm..nah. To be honest, with me being extremely un-American I thought it was only that animated (was it?) movie with Tom Hanks *blush*.

But Polar Express Day sounds like it would be a favorite memory. What a fun tradition! - for the kids of course, not the photographer! ;)

Kim said...

Going to make one today...It's Madeline's Polar Express Day at her kindergarten. She's picked out her fuzzy warm PJs and is very excited.

Anonymous said...

Did you see the fun activities beneath the letter? Fun stuff. :)

Laurie said...

And here I thought it was something Allison's school thought up. Ha! I'm so clueless! :) She had a blast at her Polar Express day. They performed their Christmas program, in their pajamas, before having their fun day. It was a blast for all, I'm sure! Now every time she has a special day at school I'm going to have to ask you if all schools do this! :)

Corey said...

I don't have any experience with Polar Express Day (or the book) but personally I find the movie totally creepy. I don't know what it is about it but the animation just freaks me out and while I *do* let the kids watch it, I always find something I "have" to do in the kitchen while it's on.

sara said...

I love this book! It was on the top of the must read list for Christmas Eve. My mom would read us that and 'How Six Found Christmas'. Sweet.

Myrnie said...

What a fun school activity! (Flourescent lighting..you're a brave woman!!) We love this story :)

Lisa said...

When Lauren was 3 we were able to take an actual ride on the "Polar Express" or at the least the one that zips by our little town! :)

To say it was an awesome moment and journey would be an understatement!

Merry Christmas to you all!!! May the bells always ring for you!

Wanda said...

We have it - and love it too!!!

Have a wonderful Christmas!!

Kayce said...

We LOVE the Polar Express! The bell still rings for me and even for our teenager and that just makes my momma heart swell!

I saw that in AZ they do a Polar Express train from Williams to the Grand Canyon and someday I'm going to make that a memory! :)

snekcip said...

I'm buying that movie/book for my 3yr old DEFINITELY!! She was glued to the TV watching the movie a few weeks ago. No Polar Express memory just yet! Oh, but they are soon to come!

LucisMomma said...

Absolutely fantastic message from Mr Van Allsburg.

My kids have taken turns, when they were younger, thinking the story was about their daddy when he was small. :) Now our 6 yo is sure it's daddy.

Anonymous said...

I've never read it or seen the movie but DD said at school yesterday (pre K) that they watch a cool train movie with snow so I'm thinking she has now seen it. I'll have to check it out.

Melissa

Wendy said...

We do the exact same thing at my former school...only we do it at night. Love it!

LaLa said...

Annslee's Polar Express Day was yesterday. I love all the kids in PJs : ) We also went to Barnes and Noble the other night and a conductor was there .. he handed out tickets and would ring the bell for the kids to come aboard and hear the story : )

Sharie said...

OK I barely know that book, but that story TOTALLY made me cry.

Aus said...

Our kids school cheats - they run the movie - but wrap it all around the same kind of party stuff it sounds like ya'll do...and yeah....the kids get to wear pj's too!

I love the stories they have to tell when they get home too - and who'd have thought a bunch of 7 and 8 year old girls would have 'fashion sense' when it comes to comparing PJ's!!

hugs - aus and co.

Patty O. said...

They had a Polar Express day at Danny's school too. He was beside himself with anticipation at wearing pjs to school.

Dita said...

Favorite Memory? My favorite memory is at the end when he finds that his sister cannot hear the bell anymore but still can.

Reminds me every time not to lose sight of the very special memories that surround me and to never take them for granted!

Hugs,
dita darling
(official old lady who can STILL hear the bells!)