Christmas Lights or Brake Lights?

Christmas Lights or Brake Lights?

Many families have holiday traditions and for some it is to go see the Christmas lights displays.  For some it is a joyous event and for others it’s their definition of hell.  In my family it’s a little of both.  And it all stems back to Christmas 1997.


That year we moved back to Alabama so my then husband could attend a military school.  It was a move back to the town where my family lived, where we met, married and our oldest son was born.  It was a move back home.  It would be a year living near family, which most military families don’t get to experience.  It was a Christmas to remember.

That Christmas our sons were 9 and 6, and it was full of memorable events.  It was the first year they visited Santa.  Since my dad was the maintenance manager at the mall,  that Santa was trust worthy.  It was their first Christmas that included an afternoon birthday, my niece’s birthday.  And it was the memorable, some say dreaded, Christmas light display tour.

One night at dinner Mom brought it up the idea of all of us going to the Calloway Gardens light display.  It sounded like a great idea.  We were all on board.  Mom got the tickets and the adventure began.  Ten of us were in attendance as this family adventure had to include all the family members, an obligatory outing.  First we had to endure the two hour drive from Montgomery to Calloway Gardens with four children from 6-14.  Upon arrival we discovered we were early and had to lined up in a parking lot for another thirty minutes.  Oh, the fun!

Now, I have to clarify, we are not a mean spirited family.  But, snarky-ness?  That is a family trait that we have all have, some of us have more than others.  My brother is one of the best.

The procession began through the display or what my brother referred to as a brake light show.  I’m not sure how long it took to tour the lights, but long enough that patience wore thin.  The mumbling became more vocal.  “Whose brilliant idea was this?”  “Mom, why did you think this was a good idea?”  “Never again!  I’m never doing this again!”

Poor mom, she got an earful as my dad sat quietly by.  See, it was my dad’s idea to go.  He was the reason for this hell!  But he never said a word.  He sat by and allowed my mom to take all the heat.  She protested and said it wasn’t her idea, but we didn’t believe her.  It was years before we knew the truth.  Dad had brought up the idea to mom who mentioned it at dinner.  Poor mom.  To this day, we blame her for the brake light show experience.

Now, some of the family members were so traumatized they will never adventure into  another Christmas light display.  My oldest son and I are always ready.  For us it’s a trip down memory lane, a way to remember, laugh, and talk about my dad who passed eighteen months later.  We are blessed that my son’s wife loves everything Christmas and eagerly joins in the Christmas light display adventure.

Isn’t that what Christmas adventures are all about, making memories and remembering events, friends and family?  Go make some memories!  Maybe a Christmas light display or brake light show is a place to start.  Merry Christmas!



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