Lighting up Christmas

A good number of year ago, my three kids came running down the stairs in their pajamas. They were giddy with excitement. Without being told twice, they put on their coats and gloves, the night chill made them a must, and my wife loaded the three of them into our car. Once everyone was tucked into their seatbelts, we turned on the CD player to our favorite Christmas music and started on our journey.

“Go to the house with the reindeer,” my daughter requested from her perch in the back seat. 

“Yea, the reindeer one,” chimed in our two younger sons. 

Lighting up the world

Every year when our kids were younger, we would drive through our neighborhood and a couple of the other nearby towns in search of the best Christmas lights. We’d wait until the sun had settled for the day, we’d had a chance to eat and the kids had completed their homework. We were usually pretty loose with our driving route, but we generally started with the farmer who lit up his entire property. There would be lights with Santa Claus and his reindeer, snowmen, religious manger scenes, and lights and lights galore. The farm, of course, was everyone’s favorite.

We’d go to lots of houses The house that had lights that blinked up one side and down the other, the house that put up a North Star, and developments where everything was lit up so bright that it looked like the middle of the afternoon. 

Getting the spirit of the season

My wife and kids would ooh and ahh and sing carols. The kids would ramble about what they wanted to include on their Christmas wish list and what they were going to tell Santa Claus when they sat on his lap. They’d count down the number of days of school until Christmas break. I’d always remind them to be sure to make a plan to leave out milk and cookies for Santa and his reindeer.

When we had our fill of the lights, I would turn the car around and head for home. Once home, we’d warm up to hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies and talk about where we wanted to drive by the next time we went out.

Seasons greetings

The kids have grown over the years, but we’ve kept the tradition alive. It’s become a fun way to remember Christmas’ past and connect as a family. The tradition, though, will see two big changes this year. First, our oldest son will be away this season. It will be his first Christmas away from the family. When we see the lights twinkle in the distance, we’ll naturally be thinking of him.

The second change is a change for the best. Our youngest son will be able to help drive. He’s a new driver and it will be fun to see him behind the wheel of the car. I’ll be sure to remind him to drive slow, come to a complete stop at all stop signs, and to keep his eyes on the road. I’m sure my backseat driving instructions will drive him crazy, but that’s what dads do.

Life has thrown a lot at all of us this year, but traditions still matter. They still make a difference. What traditions are you looking forward to this Christmas season?

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