I could use a little magic this year. A little ta-da! in my life. And in December it seems possible. As I drive past decorated streets and houses welcoming Christmas, I want to believe.

My family and I attend Bright Nights every year to kick off the holiday season. We ride the miniature train and revel in thousands of lights strung together, the displays of Santa and his reindeer, Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch, baby Jesus in a manger, and the conductor from the Polar Express on stilts! Dancing on stilts, by the way.

Bright Nights never disappoints. After the train ride we buy popcorn, walk through lit pathways, pose the kids in front of multiple displays and coax them to smile. “Smile bigger. Wow, that’s a lot of teeth. Okay, that’s creepy. Just smile normal.” If we’re lucky we’ll see a large flash of red in the crowd. Santa’s parked his sleigh and he’s bombarded with children and their parents clamoring for his attention. “Look up!” Scott points at the trees and the kids gasp at red, white, green and blue reaching and twinkling against night sky.

While it’s packed with people and bright with lights it is a sanctuary, a place in the park for our community carved out by firefighters, many volunteers, and donations made by visitors. A place where everything stops for a while so we can get swept up in the season, appreciate the good in our lives, not pay for parking (in the city this is very exciting) and be merry. Bright Nights is an event that’s been close to my heart for 12 years.

On our way out before we stop at the donation box, before we say goodbye to the firefighters handing out candy canes as they wish us “Merry Christmas!” we notice a new display. It’s the train from the Polar Express chugging along the tracks and just above it on the roof of the train station is the word Believe.

Ah, magic.

Swept up in Bright Nights at Stanley Park, Vancouver.

I tweeted this pic of Annie and Ben last night.

7 thoughts on “believe

  1. IntenseGuy

    I thank you for this… When I read the words, the song that Josh Groban sings so well, “Believe”, came into my head…

    Children sleeping, snow is softly falling
    Dreams are calling like bells in the distance
    We were dreamers not so long ago
    But one by one we all had to grow up
    When it seems the magic’s slipped away
    We find it all again on Christmas day

    Believe in what your heart is saying
    Hear the melody that’s playing
    There’s no time to waste
    There’s so much to celebrate
    Believe in what you feel inside
    And give your dreams the wings to fly
    You have everything you need
    If you just believe

    Trains move quickly to their journey’s end
    Destinations are where we begin again
    Ships go sailing far across the sea
    Trusting starlight to get where they need to be
    When it seems that we have lost our way
    We find ourselves again on Christmas day

    … Happy Holidays Heidi …

  2. Loraleigh

    I LOVE (like really LOVE) Bright Nights. We used to go all the time as family, and then we would tour all around down town and look at all the houses. There was always treats, always hot chocolate… I LOVED it. I think my Dad and Joan still make it an annual event. And it’s just chilly not bitterly deathly cold, and the popcorn is all hot and buttery………*sigh* one of the many, many, many, many, beautiful things about Vancouver. Here we have glittery combines and tractors, but somehow it just doesn’t cut it….
    Great picture, I love it.

    1. heidi

      I just read this out loud to Scott and laughed and laughed. The glittery combines and tractors paint a lovely picture. *sigh* When are you coming for a visit?

  3. Kate Coveny Hood

    My kids would love that (I would love that). And now I think I will put the Polar Express on for them…(we visited a neighbor with model train sets today and Oliver was in HEAVEN!)

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