I will start this by making something clear: I am an unashamed, ridiculously HUGE fan of the holidays. As SOON as Thanksgiving is over, I put the Nutcracker CD in my car and crank it up while I drive around. I loooooove Christmas and all its trappings, and I especially love traditions. Being a new(ish) family, though, we are still creating traditions for ourselves. We’ve kept some of the ones that J or I grew up with, like new pajamas on Christmas Eve, for example. And we’ve been trying out new ideas over the past few years and seeing what really works for us. It’s fun – we dabble, for now, and see what sticks. I just want F to have a sense of continuity and the good feelings that come with traditions that she can count on, plus, did I mention I am a big Christmas nerd? I love it all and I want to share my love for Christmas with my little one.
Last year we decided to try the Holiday of Lights at the Del Mar Racetrack, which, if you’ve never been before, is pretty great in its simplicity: holiday-themed light displays are set up on the infield inside the racetrack, you pack your car full of people, show up, and drive really slowly around the track while you oooh and aaaah at all the pretty lights. There’s a low-power radio station that you can tune in to for Christmas music. And the light displays are big: there’s a surfing Santa, a ton of reindeer, giant teddy bear that pops out of a gift box, and the grand finale: a tunnel of lights that you drive right through. On the excitement meter it’s not too over-the-top, but kids love it, no matter how cold it is outside. More on that in a minute.
Last year we popped popcorn, put hot chocolate in to-go cups, and headed down the 5. It really felt magical, seeing it through 4 year old F’s eyes, and it’s so cheap and easy, we decided on the spot that it should be a new holiday tradition for us. This year when some friends invited us to go, we agreed right away. Little did we know we’d be taking it to a whole new level.
Families with kids who are a little older than F are great resources, because they have experience – they’ve been through it all before, they know the shortcuts, they know which teacher you want or where to take gymnastics or what’s the best pizza place to take a soccer team after a game. And our friends the Bs knew exactly how to do the Holiday of Lights: with a handful of kids, a pile of blankets, and a GIANT pick-up truck to ride in the back of, sub-50 degree weather be damned. So that’s what we did last night: 7 kids and 2 moms in the back, 2 dads in the front, Christmas music on an iPhone, and a thermos of hot chocolate. And it was awesome. Even though someone else’s kid farted on me and at one point my lips turned blue from the cold, it was the kind of fun that makes my heart feel three sizes too big. The kids were in HEAVEN. They sang Christmas carols, they sang “Gangnam Style,” they ooohed and ahhhed and fought over who got to sit where. It was pretty dang precious.
Holiday traditions rule. We’re definitely keeping this one.