Sometimes I wonder if “kids these days” know that the movie The Polar Express was based on a book. They might be ignorant to the fact that the Tom Hanks film didn’t exist when I was a child. It’s true, people of my advancing age just had the book to enjoy as kids, which was okay…because it was magical.
When I look back on my childhood and reflect on my elementary school teachers reading The Polar Express, I can feel a sense of that beautiful Christmas magic that lives genuinely within the hearts of kids. The concept of a train arriving in the dark of night to take you to the North Pole is a story so unbelievably special that it resonates with most kids—and many adults.
Admittedly, I stopped hearing the Polar Express bell when I grew into adulthood. When the movie came out, the jingle was still muted as I just didn’t seem to care. But then I had kids. I took Sloan to watch “Polar Express” in the theater a couple years ago as part of a special showing. The excitement and wonder within her was so authentic. I appreciated the movie immensely and I could once again hear the bell loud and clear.
It comes as no surprise that people have had success capitalizing on the Polar Express mystique beyond just turning it into a blockbuster hit. Many communities now offer Polar Express experiences where kids can board—if not a train—something that moves and depart for the “North Pole.” We actually participated in such an activity just last week…
Our family took advantage of Coeur d’Alene’s Journey to the North Pole adventure. We drove to neighboring Idaho where we hopped on a boat cruiser that took us across Lake Coeur d’Alene to Santa’s workshop. To sip hot chocolate while admiring all the pretty light displays on the way to the North Pole was majestic. But the true magical moment came upon arrival at the workshop when Santa made an appearance and read his “nice list.” When he called the names of both Sloan and Beau, it was like a weight was lifted off their shoulders. Sloan rejoiced as Santa lit the Christmas tree and fireworks filled the sky.
I have yet to read “The Polar Express” to Sloan. Would the actual words and award-winning illustrations captivate her in the same way that the movie did? Tough question. It usually seems like you prefer the first version—either book or film—that you see first. As for me? Now that I do hear the bell again, I think I would enjoy going back down memory lane. Don’t Blink.