Lights, Laughter and Cheer

It’s Christmas Eve and we don’t have a party to go to or give so we decided to take the children in the car and drive around looking at lights. I thought this was a brilliant idea that would draw laughter and cheer from our sweet little ones.

“WHAT?!” they both said when I told them my idea. “We’re going to drive around and do what?”

Oh, well. So much for laughter and cheer, but they still have to do it.

So we load everyone up in the car, including the dog, and we set out to find suburban light oases. I start the conversation with a game they like to play, it’s called Practice Opening Presents. It goes like this:

I say, “Orion, pretend I give you a present. You open it and it’s….a sweater.”
He says, “Wow! Thanks! Just what I really needed!”
I say, “Asher, pretend I give you a present. You open it and it’s….broccoli.”
She says, “Wow! Thanks! Just the food to keep me healthy!”
I say, “Elkin, pretend I give you a doll.”
She says, “No. Broccoli.”
“Ok,” I answer. “Your present is broccoli. What do you say?”
“Thanks.”
Asher wants another turn.
“Fine. Asher, I give you a present. You open it and it’s…a baby.”
“Great!” she says. “Just what Orion and I need to complete the total destruction of all of our games!”
Dad is laughing.
Orion chimes in. “Ok, Dad, pretend I give you a present. It’s socks. What do you say?”
“It sucks,” he answers.
Peals of laughter erupt from the backseat.
“It sucks,” Elkin mimics. More laughter.

Well, we’ve found our first neighborhood with supposed light fantasies¬†but this year there was a less than enthusiastic participation in the decorating tradition. A few houses hung a string here and there but the whole row of ranches weren’t lit up like they used to be.

On to the next stop, sure to be a big winner, the Balian Mansion. This place has had the same display since I was a kid.

I guess my kids are too old to really enjoy it. We drove by but they didn’t seem to care much. I tried to make it a little more interesting.

“Did I ever tell you guys about the time I came here when I was a little girl?” I asked.
“Yeah, and it was so windy you almost got blown away,” my daughter yawns. “Yeah, you told us.”

Ok. Well. Maybe the baby will still like it.

“Look at Snow White!” I shouted.
She looked, she saw, and we drove by. Suddenly she starts screaming from the backseat. She wants Snow White. She’s inconsolable.

We drive on. Next stop: Christmas Tree Lane.

Again, this isn’t the first year the kids have taken the tour. They are now playing games in the back and totally uninterested in lights. Elkin, on the other hand, is available to be mesmerized.

“There’s Thomas the Train!” I point out.
Inconsolable crying erupts again. She wants him.

There’s only one stop left. The wagon house on Michigan which happens to be across the street from our old house. We arrive and it’s a smash hit. There’s Spongebob and the Pink Panther and all the old favorite lights and wagon and Santa the kids adore. We stop outside and admire it all for a while. When it’s time to go, Elkin starts her waterworks with a fury. Then we pass our old house. This brings out the tears in the boy who misses “the best backyard in the world”. Now two out of the three are crying and the third is really mad about the whole thing. She didn’t even want to see lights.

Well, that’s it for Dad. So much for laughter and cheer. Next year maybe I’ll have a better idea.

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