Our family flew to Dallas for U.S. Thanksgiving to visit my sister Leslie and brother-in-law Kyle who live there. Blake had never experienced Thanksgiving, American-style, and I was eager to return to my birth state (truth) and see how Dallas had changed since I was last there (in, um, 1991).
We prepped Bennett with a social story called My Trip to Dallas, that included pictures of all the places we might go and the things we might do. Our agenda didn’t include much beyond turkey and a Black Friday sale or two, but here are a few of the highlights.
1. Planetarium show
Kyle works at the Perot (as in Ross) Museum of Nature and Science where he does educational outreach and planetarium shows for school groups inside a portable Nomad Dome planetarium. We were treated to a private show and got lost in space as Kyle zipped us from our night sky and solar system, to the Milky Way, and then to the far reaches of the universe, where we felt pretty insignificant. Just today Avery recalled the experience when we looked up and saw a half moon on the walk to school. “I felt pretty small inside Kyle’s planetarium,” she said.
2. The rest of the museum
The Perot Museum is a beautiful facility that just opened two years ago. It’s basically a science centre-meets-natural history museum so there’s tons for kids to do and ogle. We hung out in the hand’s-on children’s museum, then Avery and Bennett raced a (virtual) cheetah inside the sports hall (the cheetah was like a blur whizzing past — blink and you missed it). We ascended the building’s gazillion escalators and then worked our way down the museum portion through the dinosaur exhibits and the gems and minerals hall (because my husband is a geologist). There was even a singing cartoon video about oil extraction that would make Jed Clampett, and visiting Albertans, proud.
3. Dallas decorates for Christmas
Walking around Dallas after dark was like attending ZooLights for free (minus the animal shapes). Many homes actually pay companies to come and wrap giant oak trees in lights, and encase entire hedges in a kind of light netting. It was all very fancy, and I can’t imagine what this would cost (if you have to ask, you clearly can’t afford it), but it was great light candy.
4. Spending time with family
The kids loved hanging out at Auntie and Uncle’s house, swinging in the funky hammock-style swings in the backyard, whacking open a piñata for Kyle’s birthday, and chasing the animals around mercilessly (Bennett). It brought into focus the meaning of the holiday — giving thanks for food and family, spending quality time with loved ones, and then trampling strangers to get a good deal at Walmart the next day.