This past Friday marked our 8th year kicking off Winter Break with a bang.
When our oldest, started kindergarten, we created a new tradition to signal the end of school for the year, welcome the holiday spirit, and find the magic after the chaos that the year has been.
We love Christmas in this family. We love the chilly weather and the hallmark movies. We love snow, the smell of campfire, and freshly baked cookies.
We love spending time together as a family and sleeping in.
And we also love Christmas lights.
There is just something magical about seeing the creativity and imagination of a complete stranger come to life, just to bring joy and the holiday spirit to others.
Before that 1st hunt in 2014, we still saw Christmas lights. It was just never a “thing” like we have now.
And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
For one evening, for just a few hours, the husband, the girls, and I are all locked warmly in our car.
We spend those few hours doing nothing but pointing out Christmas lights, and chatting about nothing too serious, as we all get excited for the end of the year.
For me, our Christmas Light adventures also bring a sense of light during the darkest time of the year.
Every year, we try to visit new places that we have yet to see. We do have our go-to’s that we see more than once, like Peacock Lane, the lights at Portland International Raceway, and the Oregon Zoolights.
Unfortunately, the Oregon Zoolights and PIR lights have become too expensive and we have had to remove them from our “regulars”.
We have even gone to the Grotto and the Silverton Christmas Market at the Oregon Garden Resort.
It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that we started driving around random neighborhoods or scrollin’ through Facebook and Nextdoor posts to find the must-see places to go.
In 2018, we went to Disneyland the week after Thanksgiving and still went to see more lights. Although, that year was a much smaller hunt because I broke my foot on our way home from Disneyland.
We haven’t missed a single hunt. Not even during the pandemic. Not even when we can’t afford the “special” places that have admission fees.
We have reached a point where we want to travel to see lights, with Leavenworth and Shore Acres on the top of our family Living List. But that is all dependent on finances.
If our girls remember nothing else from their childhood, I hope that they continue the spirit of our Christmas Light Hunt Adventure.
This year, our hunt was probably the best one yet. Not including Disneyland because that will never be topped.
But this year was fun and long and exciting. The girls are growing up way too fast. The 10yr old was excited to SEE ALL THE LIGHTS while the 13yr old was doing her hardest to make it look like she didn’t enjoy herself.
We went to a few new places, including the North Pole at Eagle Crest where we donated a few bucks for kids at St. Judes. We drove for hours. We drank hot chocolate and coffee. We stopped on the side of a dark and sketchy road so I could take pictures of an abandoned building and silo.
And we ended the evening buying and then eating a whole bunch of doughnuts from Voodoo Donuts. We were in the area so we just had to. Iykyk.
By the time we got back home, nearly 6 hours later, our spirits were high, our holiday magic refilled, our hearts full, and our eyes tired.
No matter where we find ourselves on our adventures or the magic we find on those hunts, we are together.
And that, my friends, is why this tradition means so much to me, to us, and why we look forward to it every year.
Because we say farewell to school and the chaos for a couple of weeks and kick off the end of the year with a bang.
Do you have any special traditions like this? Have you created any of your own traditions? Or is there a tradition from your childhood that you still hold near and dear?
I’d love to hear about how you find the magic and the spirit during the holiday season and the light during the darkest time of the year.
In the meantime, Adventure on with Curiosity,
~ Kelly “Beast” Steele
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