CHRISTMAS CLOSET TIME: Everybody but everybody makes a fuss about how early the holidays appear, year after year, in our stores and the malls and on television. Seems like we've hardly broken into those Halloween candy buckets and zing! There's a snowman selling us snazzy strings of light during the commercial break. But privately? In your own home? You aren't keeping strictly to your "no holiday music/fun/decor before Thanksgiving" rule. You're combing your kids' closets finding those green, sparkly sweaters, for the holiday photos, the ones you need to take ASAP because tickets to various seasonal events are going on sale as fast as a snazzy string of lights flicker on. One of the classics of the "find your tot's cutest holiday wear" season, at least 'round Orange County, is the Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train, which comes complete with a certain Mr. Claus and decorations and a Tunnel of Lights and a Santa's Village. Meaning that this is the moment many a parent chooses to take those card-worthy snapshots of the kidlets enjoying the charm-filled setting, which has the sweet bucolic bonus of being outdoors. Ready to forsake your swearing-off of the holidays before the holidays actually begin?
THEN GET ON THOSE TICKETS... because Irvine Park Railroad made them available for purchase on Nov. 1. The Christmas Train toot-toots -- that's trainese for "opens" -- on Friday, Nov. 28, and tickets are $12 per person, with some additional fees, like photos with Santa Claus. Given that opening weekend is Thanksgiving -- hellooooo, relatives in town -- best jump on those if you will. But the train chugga-chuggas -- that's trainese for "rolls" -- throughout December, so even if you don't get a cute, photo-worthy outfit for your kid together by late November, you can still just enjoy the old-timey scene. It's sweet stuff, a nature-nice tradition, and one of the ways Orange gets into the spirit of the season.