For some places in the world, it’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit until late November or even December. The stores start selling their decorations, and they seem very out of place. Synthetic trees, gawdy wrapping paper, bags of plastic bows — it doesn’t feel authentic. It feels forced.
Well, not in Wilmington, New York. This quaint town is home to the North Pole. Here, it’s OK to think about Christmas any time of year. This a magical place, where there is always holiday spirit. The hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts in Wilmington are dressed up year round with candy canes on doors, Santa’s sleighs, and beautiful wreaths made from pines fresh from the forest. Everything here is authentic.
Head up the road from the four corners and you'll see Santa’s Workshop on the right. Here you can do it all, from visiting Santa and feeding his reindeer to catching a show or parade. There is a great talking Christmas tree. I found this out as I waked by. I was going to miss the parade, and a mysterious voice let me know I was headed the wrong way. Thank goodness, the parade was worth it! I love Santa’s Workshop, and I even bought a season pass a few summers ago. I could go everyday. The elves there will wish you a "Merry Christmas” as you walk by in your flip flops and shorts. I’ve always loved that. “Merry Christmas!"
Hands down, the train at the North Pole is honestly one of the merriest experiences I have ever had. You get on and grab a seat wherever you would like. I personally love the caboose. There is a really cool bench seat where you can watch the workshop go by. Keep an eye on the trees when you get moving — there are little painted doors on their bases. Elves must live there, or pixies or gnomes. I’m not sure who or what they are, but my kids and I have tried to solve this for years. I know we spotted something there, by the biggest tree. We are sure we saw a tiny red hat running into the woods.The train must have been early because the conductor said they are impossible to catch.
The train continues through the reindeer area and around the whole workshop. There is no better way to spend some time. Make sure to take it at least twice — they won’t even make you get off at the station, just keep on going!
The shops at Santa’s Workshop are some of my favorite. There is a great toy store complete with a slide that could keep the kids busy all day. There are little wooden toy elves busy building dolls and teddy bears. This toy store is not like anything you will see in a suburban mall. Santa’s elves are working, creating, and coloring. They will sit down with the kids, or adults, to color a picture or help you make your wish list for Santa.
The holiday shop near the entrance of the workshop has decorations so unique, they make great gifts for everyone on your list. You won’t feel like it’s July or November; you will feel like it's December 24 and you need to get your stockings hung. However, if you are having a hard time feeling the warmth of the holiday, visit the candle maker. The scent of pine and holiday cookies will certainly change your mood. I have a slight addiction to snow globes, and you should make sure to pick one up at the North Pole. You won’t see another one like it anywhere. At least no other one will give you the feeling of the ones so close to Santa’s house.
When you are at the North Pole, or even just driving by, make sure to stop at the post office. You can get a letter sent from Santa, the real deal. The postmark on the letter is the North Pole, how cool is that? Let the elves help you, they are always so happy and cheerful. This post office is one of a kind. Although those videos you can have Santa send will put smiles on the kids faces — they are pretty magical, don’t get me wrong — a letter, complete with a postmark, from HIM? That is as good as it gets. Put away the computers and read the letter together. The memories will last a lifetime.
Closer to the actual holiday, one of my favorite things are the twinkling lights at night. I remember taking a drive with my family as a child for the sole purpose of looking at the Christmas lights. The Village of Lights shines brightly on December evenings at Santa’s Workshop. Make sure to check out the schedule and enjoy the beauty. The town of Wilmington also gets into the spirit of this — the lights on the homes and businesses illuminate the whole community. As far as I am concerned, the North Pole gets it right when it comes to keeping the Christmas spirit alive. It is a real thing; a feeling, a scent, an emotion that you cannot buy, and it’s alive here. Any time of year you can experience it in Wilmington.
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