By Robbie Owens

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With quick and convenient shopping as close as the nearest keyboard, retailers know that consumers leave home in search of experiences. And when it comes to holiday tradition, Galleria Dallas delivers.

“It was an awesome experience!” gushed Angela Thomas, surrounded by her daughters and nieces as they enjoyed holiday music, ice skating elves and the official lighting of the nation’s tallest indoor tree. It was Thomas’ first visit.

For Chelsey Hardisty and her crew, the Galleria tree lighting is an annual tradition.

“Once they see Santa ice skating, they know it’s time to get ready for Christmas,” said Hardisty.

All around the multi-storied rink, little ones with bright eyes drank in the holiday display.

“It was sooo good!” exclaimed seven-year-old Rylann, with all of the sweet enthusiasm that makes adults regret growing up. “They had these smoke alarms, when Santa came out, they like went off!” she described with arms waving. “It was so cool… and we were like sooo scared.”

So, along with savoring the symbols of the season: there’s also plenty of shopping.

“Prices are good,” said Hardisty, who admits that she’s always searching for the good deals. “Gas prices aren’t too bad, so you have more money to spend to shop, and spend for yourself.”

And more time to spend it, since Thanksgiving is early this year.

“We love that extra week between Black Friday and Christmas!” explained Allison Scott with Apricot Lane Boutique. “We think that’s just going to give people an extra week to get their shopping done, spread the crowd out, and keep everyone coming out.”

She says the locally-based, family-owned shop has seen traffic pick up all week in advance of Black Friday, but today is so steeped in tradition, that it’s still a lot of fun.

Meanwhile, the seven year olds have decided that they’re going to spend “a whole bunch of money,” by the way.

As their parents laughed, and the music played, Thomas’ mall visit put it all in perspective. She is a recent cancer survivor and says she’s about the business of making more memories with her daughters and nieces.

“I love Christmas, let me say that — and every moment has always been precious for us,” said Thomas. “But, for this one: I’m grateful to be alive and so just to have my family, my girls here, to be able to celebrate things like this. It means everything.”