There are certain times of the year that your mind becomes flooded with special memories from years gone by. The Christmas season is most definitely one of those times for me. The other evening, Husby, Levi and I took a stroll down memory lane...
Growing up, my grandparents marked their calendar each December, making room for one very special night with their grandkids. The four of us - Josh, Stacey, Luke and myself, looked forward to this night all year long, but as soon as Thanksgiving was over we were hot on their tails asking when the night would be. The night to trump all nights. The night full of non-stop fun and excitement galore .... Christmas Light Night.
This ever-anticipated night was filled with tradition from which we never wavered. From the moment the four of us arrived at our meet-up destination, we talked a mile a minute about what the night was going to hold. We all piled into my grandparents car and off we went ... to Casa Bonita.
We ate our fill of tacos and enchiladas, raced around the waterfall, explored the cave like we were spelunkers and lastly went to the puppet show to see if our friend (and puppet master) Larry was still there each year. We made friends with Larry one of the times we were there and each time the four of us came back around Christmas, he always remembered us! Even our names! Larry was our favorite.
After wreaking havoc at Casa Bonita, we loaded back into the car and headed to the Zoo to see the lights. They called it Zoo-Lightful. It was a blast. We rode the train, saw the (indoor) animals, looked at the lights, and one year - spun circles in the parking lot because it was snowing. Zoo-Lightful was certainly delightful and was an essential part of our exciting night.
From the zoo, we drove around a few affluent neighborhoods in the city and finally made our way to a Bible College that puts on a spectacular light display each year. We drove and walked through these lights and each and every year my brother managed to de-light a whole string. I think he made it his mission, but I can't be too sure. This was our last destination of the evening before heading back to my grandparents house.
The time spent in the car together hold some of the best memories. Josh, spinning yarns about anything and everything. Luke, being loud and as always, the life of the party. Stacey, scheming plans about midnight snacks and sneaking downstairs to watch SNL when everyone went to sleep. And me, belting out the two Christmas songs I knew in German (Stille Nacht and Oh Tannenbaum) and driving everyone absolutely insane with it.
Our grandparents laughed at our stories, complimented our singing, told awesome stories, went along with whatever we wanted to do and absolutely made all of our dreams come true. Those nights were magical. When we got back to their house, we drank hot chocolate out of our Santa Claus mugs, got in our jammies and ran wild through the house until we physically could not keep our eyes open one more minute. We awoke to a big breakfast of the BEST biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs and all the fixings. We sat around the table reminiscing about the night before ... sad that it was over but looking forward to the next year.
We held this tradition for countless years - as long as I can remember, actually. Years later, after my dear grandpa passed and my brother and I were in college, we recreated Christmas Night Light with our cousin Stacey. (Josh was off and married with a family of his own.) Luke, his girlfriend, Stacey, me and my best friend dined at Casa Bonita, went to the Zoo, drove around the best lit neighborhoods and ended at the Bible College, reminiscing with each mile. It was such a sweet time together - a time that seemed to be an end to an era. An ode to our precious grandparents and the incredible memories they created for us.
Husby, Levi and I went back to Casa Bonita the other night and as we sat and ate, I told story after story about our times there as a child. After dinner, we drove and strolled through the Bible College looking at all the lights. I can't wait until Levi gets to experience times like these with his grandparents and with his cousins, because they are truly some of the best, sweetest memories I have. I am so grateful to my grandparents for making special nights for us - nights that you can only dream about - the best nights of our lives.