The Day-After-Thanksgiving Legostravaganza!!!

The day after Thanksgiving is always a fun day in the Markel house, starting with pie for breakfast, and continuing on through the day with TV-watching, leftovers-eating, and turkey soup for dinner. But the highlight of the day is always the building of the new Lego Winter Village set for the year. Everyone gets to join in the fun!

This year, we had a few small sets: a town square and a train ride, plus a nutcracker.

And the big set…the Winter Village Station, to go with the train we assembled last year! I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to build the bus, because it reminds me of the Columbia Inn’s taxi in White Christmas! I especially love the presets in the rooftop carrier.

The station itself is also pretty cool…there’s a lot of nice little details, including a coffee shop inside!

The station joined the train under the tree in our living room, and I love the way it adds to our wintry scene of happy travelers!

The Lego Winter Holiday Train

Thanks to the great sink fiasco of 2016, we were a day late building our Lego Christmas set for the year, but this evening, we sat down and got it done.

Each member of our family had a specific task:

In addition to the train itself, there were five new minifigs and a whole bunch of Lego toys and Christmas presents, which were built by Bunny and Chickadee:

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Ryan started with the engine:

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And Moose built the coal car:

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Turkey took car of the toy car, which also includes a cool revolving Christmas tree:

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And I built the passenger car/caboose:

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The track just fits around the base of our living room Christmas tree, and the gingerbread house that Ladybug built is the perfect complement to the set:

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This is the first Christmas set that we’ve built that isn’t a part of our winter village display, but I love having a train around our tree! And if we want to in the future, we can add Lego Power Functions to it, so that it can actually go!

A Markel Family Thanksgiving

I’ve shared bits and pieces of our Thanksgiving traditions here and there, but if you ever wondering what the whole event looks like, from start to finish, here is your chance to find out.

In our house, Thanksgiving is a three-day event. It begins on Wednesday, or what I like to call “Pie Day.” I bake a different pie for each member of our family (although we all eat all of them), and so Wednesday is a day of baking pies. Lots and lots of pies. I also prep the stuffing and make the cranberries on this day, and do a little prep work for Friday’s dinner, as well…lots of vegetable chopping! We have a few fun family activities, like making hand-and-footprint turkeys and reading our favorite Thanksgiving books, too. And we have our favorite shows to watch…the children get to watch the Gilmore Girls “A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving” episode as well as the  Mad About You episode “Giblets for Murray” with us, and when they’re not around, Ryan and I watch all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes, plus the Chuck Thanksgiving/Black Friday shows. In some ways, I like this day better than the holiday itself!

Thanksgiving Day always begins bright and early with Ryan buying me breakfast from Jack in the Box or McDonald’s (to fuel me through all my work), the Macy’s Parade, complete with bingo cards for the children, and a bath for the turkey in the sink, because no matter how early I start thawing it, it’s always still partially frozen on Thanksgiving Day. We usually watch some of the dog show after the parade, and we have fun playing Animal Crossing, and helping Franklin not be part of the town dinner! A lot of this day involves waiting…waiting for the turkey to thaw, waiting until it’s time to put it in the oven, waiting for it to be done (often earlier than I’m expecting), waiting to smack Ryan’s hand when he steals some of the stuffing from the crock-pot, waiting until it’s time to work on the rest of the side dishes, which include a corn and wild rice casserole, green beans with almonds, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and (store-bought) gravy, and rolls. Somehow, it all gets made, and it’s all usually even warm when it hits the table!

After dinner, it is, of course, clean up time. Cleaning up the dishes, putting away the leftover food, and boiling down the turkey carcass for soup the next day. While I’m working on this, we always watch Holiday Inn…I’m so glad the living room is open to the kitchen so I can multi-task! After the clean-up is done, and the broth is put away, we enjoy our seven pies for dessert…although I don’t think anyone has ever tried all seven on Thanksgiving Day itself! Once all my work is done for the day, the children might get to have some bonus video game time, while Ryan and I either finish watching our TV shows or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

Our three-day celebration concludes on Black Friday, a day where we avoid any and all stores if at all possible. Instead, we begin our morning at a decent hour, and enjoy leftover pie for breakfast. The rest of the morning is pretty low-key, but after lunch, the fun begins again, with the building of the yearly Lego Christmas set. This is one of my favorite newer traditions, and is a great family activity. At some point, I start the turkey soup for the night’s dinner, which isn’t too much work thanks to all of the prep work I will have already done. And right after dinner, we head out to our city’s town square (which is really a circle, but I digress), for the town tree-lighting, a community sing, and a trolley ride past the stores hosting the annual Gingerbread Walk. While we’re out, Ryan always buys two bread bowls at St. Louis Bread Co. for our soup leftovers lunch the following day, and then we head home for a quiet evening…or what’s left of it!

I’ve really come to love our Thanksgiving traditions, and even though it’s a lot of work, I can’t imagine doing it any other way!

A Wet Tree Lighting

Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, we head to Belleville’s town square after dinner for the annual tree lighting and community sing. This year, we weren’t sure if we were going to go, because it rained all day…Belleville even had to cancel the morning’s Christmas parade. We heard that the tree lighting was going to be held in a tent at the Christmas market, so we decided to go, even if we wouldn’t be able to watch the lights come on.

It turned out to be a really good decision! It was a nice small crowd, the singing was led by an accordion, and we got a look at the new tent, which is well-decorated.

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After the sing, we went for our annual trolley ride, and saw the lights in all their soggy glory:

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We even briefly walked around the market:

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It wasn’t the night we were hoping for, but in the end, I think it was something better than we expected!

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The Lego Winter Toy Shop

One of my favorite things about the day after Thanksgiving is sitting down to build our new Christmas Lego set. This year, Lego re-released a set we had previously missed out on…the toy shop. I was very glad to have a second chance to add this to our village!

Each member of the family had a job to do, although Chickadee’s was largely supervisory:

In addition to the shop itself (which has some great details, including a highly prized light brick), the set came with a village Christmas tree, another bench, and some fun minifigs (including a pair of carolers). We also got to build the two free-with-purchase sets from this year…a Christmas train and a gingerbread house:

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Next year, we’ll have to relocate our village…there is officially no more room on this shelf!

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This tradition is a fun way to kick off our family’s Christmas celebrations every year!

The Winter Village Cottage

Yesterday, we continued the tradition we started last year on the day after Thanksgiving of building a new part of our Lego winter village. This time around, we built the cottage, a Christmas gift that I received last year, and saved just for this occasion. The children started off with the snowplow and smaller buildings (an igloo and wood chopping workshop), and Ladybug worked on one of the bonus sets we received with purchase at the Lego VIP event last weekend (a cute skating scene).

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A few weeks ago, Turkey and I worked on modifying the other bonus set we had received. It was supposed to be an elf workshop, but we turned it into a gift stand to go with the other booths in last year’s Christmas market. I love how it turned out!

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Ryan and I built the house. It was very fun, if not a little frustrating after getting used to the modular method of building…it includes a light-up brick to make the fireplace glow, and an adorable Lego Christmas tree.

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Even though we’ve only built two sets, our winter village is a full, busy place. I love this new tradition!

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A Belleville200 Tree Lighting

Tonight was one of my favorite events of the year…the town tree lighting! (We also got a peek at the new Christmas Market.) The crowd was bigger this year than we’ve seen in previous years…it was nice to see such a good community turnout!

 

The Town Tree Lighting–2013

Last night, we went downtown for our city’s tree lighting.

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It’s a charming event. It begins with a community sing, and I’m always rather impressed that people show up after a long day of shopping!

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Of course, the children love it!P1330623

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Even though the tree has been up and on downtown for the last week, there’s still something magical about that moment they flip the switch!

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Still to come…details on the annual Gingerbread displays!

The Lego Christmas Market

Instead of braving the crowds and shopping today, we spent the day at home, working on our Lego Christmas Market. It was a far superior way to spend our day…all the fun of putting together a puzzle, but far easier to display and much more enjoyable to play with, and not a manic shopper in sight!

There were enough stalls that each child got to build one…if Chickadee had been big enough, there would have even been one for her! Since she’s not ready for Lego bricks, I helped her out. (Ryan and I also got to build the carousel.)

We also had the two holiday exclusive with purchase sets…they go perfectly with the Market!

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The Town Tree Lighting

As we do every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving, we went to our city’s downtown area for the tree lighting tonight.

Chickadee found the whole thing rather…surprising?

I’m always happiest to see the nativity on our town square!