Submitted by Mari Farthing, OKWB Community Manager
This post needs a subtitle: A Very Menopausal Christmas.
Every year, ever since I can remember, we drive around to look at Christmas lights. I want to blame (credit?) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (which we traditionally watch on Christmas Eve) for this, but I can recall even back when I was a kid in Wisconsin, there was a neighborhood that would decorate in that Griswald over-the-top style, and we visited Candy Cane Lane even before we had kids, walking the streets in sub-zero weather and taking pictures (with our film-loaded cameras) of the elaborate displays.
Now, I so appreciate our neighbors who decide to throw caution and their utility bills to the wind in order to light up the night with holiday spirit, and it can be like a treasure hunt driving down the street. Giddily, the kids would yell out from the back seat “CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!” until it got silly and they would start pointing at neon signs and traffic lights. Funny business. They got to go out for a ride after bedtime, wearing pajamas and singing Christmas songs and sometimes hitting the drive-thru for a milkshake (because cocoa is just too hot).
Along with the personal displays, there are so many donation-funded drive through displays at parks all over the state, and while we’ve visited a few over the years, there is one in particular that it’s become our tradition to visit. When we loaded up in the car to do our tour of lights last night, I recalled the wide-eyed and pajama-ed kids who excitedly clutched their candycanes and fuzzy blankets, thrilled to be exploring new territory and up past their bedtimes; these are the children of a Christmas past. This year, we loaded up with hormonal and bickering pre-teens (one clutching his smartphone), a Dad with a head cold and a hormonal, menopausal Mom.
The kids bickered in the back seat in between stern looks and the random admonishment from me while we adults in the front shared a jaunty conversation consisting of “ah-choo!” and “God bless you,” and not much else since he was rendered all but deaf by the head-cold congestion.
Thusly, we made our way to the park, after only one wrong turn (happens every year), kids complaining of sticky fingers and poking each other in the face with said sticky fingers (as one does). We crept through the park with our holiday music playlist, looking at all the lights with the hundreds of other cars in procession.
I remember most of the displays from years past; some of them showing their age with a bulb out here or there, some that we decided are best viewed at a distance. We wondered at the giant, orchestrated display that we didn’t tune our radios to but rather listened to our own music mix (can we not do that, please? I’m tired of that song). We saw a few new ones, the kids argued whether the blinking lights were really seizure-inducing or just annoying, and I tried to hold onto my holiday spirit.
Surely this was it; the end of our traditional tour of lights. It made me sad, but I didn’t see how this would be fun anymore when the kids were clearly over it. And honestly, I was just tired; I had spent two days cooped up with these grumpy tweens and at this point, they were just sawing away at my last untouched nerve.
We reached the end of the display, driving through the blinking tunnel, putting our tip in the bucket and turning our headlights back on. I thought to myself, “so much for that.”
And then, from the back seat, he said, “I love coming here to see the lights.”
And next to him, she said, “That was so cool. Thanks for taking us.”
I felt my heart thaw out and grow a little bit bigger, just like the Grinch. And then they started up with the bickering again. Between sneezes, my husband turned up the music and we all sang along (even though the kids changed the lyrics), and I said a prayer of thanks for the holiday spirit that’s still in here with us.
It may not look or feel the same as it did when they wore footie pajamas, but it’s still there, just the same.
Along with being the Community Manager of the Oklahoma Women Bloggers, Mari is a menopausal mom of two tweens (pray for her) who enjoys cooking, knitting and running. She blogs about her life’s misadventures at MariFarthing.com.