Tonight I had the pleasure of being able to walk through the local “Christmas Tree Lane” with my wonderful sister and fiancé. Though I have driven through a couple different Christmas Tree Lanes in past years (once a few years back with my parents, once last year while living in Fresno), there was something about walking through it with the two people I hold dearest to my heart that really sparked something inside of me. Call it holiday cheer, call it the Starbucks kicking in, but tonight was definitely something special.
As we were nearing the end of our magical journey through this lovely neighborhood I heard a parent near us tell their child that they had reached the end and it was time to go home. The child, being rather young, didn’t want to leave. They whined and begged to stay, and upon hearing this I couldn’t help but smile. Had I been walking through this winter wonderland of sorts at their age, I probably would have done the same exact thing. When we are young we wish magical and beautiful moments like that could last forever. Maybe it’s something as remarkable as Disneyland, or something as simple as Christmas Tree Lane, but there is something special about these places that spark a feeling in our hearts that is so unbelievably rare and magical. As children, we want these moments to last forever. We want it to be Christmas every day of the year and we want to live in Disneyland forever. But as we get older, we realize that it’s how rare these moments are that make them so special and memorable to us. When I was young, adults would tell me that if I got to go to Disneyland every single day it wouldn’t be special anymore. To this day I do have my doubts about that statement, however they make a valid point. We took a week long trip to Disneyland when I was ten years old, and as much as I loved that vacation, I couldn’t tell you much of what we did everyday. It all blends together in a blur of music, junk food, and rides. However, there is one specific moment of that vacation that I remember so vividly and beautifully. I remember watching the fireworks over the water in front of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. I remember being so entranced by the combination of the dramatic music and the lights over the water. But most of all, I remember out of the corner of my eye seeing my dad look at me with the biggest smile on his face, because even though I didn’t know it then, he knew a beautiful memory was being formed in my mind, and he got to be a part of it.
Days come and go. They begin and they end, usually with nothing remarkable happening in between. But within those days are moments. Moments that stand out from others, and it is in these moments that we have the opportunity to create memories that will last forever. Had Eddie and I simply driven through Christmas Tree Lane tonight by ourselves the way we had originally planned on doing I’m sure that it would have been fun, but as the years went on it likely would have blended in with and eventually gotten lost in all of the holiday memories that are to come. But at the last minute we asked Christa to come with us. We decided to wear silly Santa hats and get Starbucks and listen to Christmas music on the way there. We decided to go through the neighborhood by foot as to not feel rushed and to be sure we had time to fully take in the sights that this community works so hard to create for us. Because we made these decisions, tonight’s adventure won’t just be a moment, it will be a memory. When I look back on it I will remember making jokes about how long it would be until Christa tripped, as she was prone to do. I will remember Eddie and I almost crying because of how hard we were laughing at her irrational fear of smooth jazz. I will remember our deep discussions of antiheroes and villains in classic Disney movies as we walked back to where we had parked our car. I will remember the music and displays that we were able to stop and admire and might have missed had we drove on by.
This time of year it is so easy to get lost in all of the holiday shopping, planning, and rushing to get everything on our to-do list taken care of. It is easy to forget what this time of year should really be all about. Years from now you won’t remember who you forgot to send a Christmas card to. It won’t matter if you didn’t have time to make that extra side dish for dinner. What will matter is that you took the time to step away from all the craziness and spend time with the ones you love, that you chose to walk through this season with the people that matter the most to you instead of driving through so fast that no lasting memories were formed. The days will come and go and the moments will fade with time, but the memories will always be with you, tucked safely into the corners of your heart.