When we lived in Michigan each holiday season we would wait for hours in a line of traffic to view the magnificent Wayne County Lightfest. HUGE blinking, animated, jaw- dropping light displays lined the long and winding road through a state park. (The picture at left is a snapshot of a part of the Santa's Flight School display). We would bundle the kids, bring Christmas cookies and a thermos of cocoa and would play our favorite Christmas songs on the radio. It was one of the highlights of the holiday season for us.
Last year we decided to attend New Mexico’s equivalent of our Michigan tradition. The big difference was that the light display here is held at the botanical gardens, which means leaving your warm car and being forced to walk around in the bitter cold along the Rio Grande, fighting crowds and dragging whining, cold children. Jude screamed for two hours straight. Not going to become our annual tradition any time soon.
This year we decided to try something new, a luminaria festival held at a park very close to our home. It is a much smaller affair and if the kids were fussy we were just a few minutes from home and it was free, so no worry about money lost if we needed to cut out early. Of course, I wasn’t expecting too much because really, how can paper bags weighted down with sand and a lit votive compare to the holiday lights we were used to?
Imagine my surprise that this will probably go down as one of my favorite holiday memories and I hope it becomes a family tradition for years to come. We walked into the park and there were thousands and thousands of luminaria lining the walkways. There were luminarias on the lawn spelling out “Happy Holidays” and “Feliz Navidad”; over 12,000 luminaria in all. We walked through the winding paths and heard choral groups signing carols and ran into friends. It was such a lovely night. But what I remember most was the peaceful, tranquil feeling of it all. Right off a major highway, hundreds of people and you could practically hear a pin drop. It was such a beautiful, mellow way of commemorating the season and we all left feeling awed and delighted.
I would love to hear what places you visit each year as part of your holiday traditions. These last few days leading up to Christmas will be all about our family traditions, and yours if you choose to share them with me. Leave a comment; I would love to hear how you mark the season.