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.
Swept up in Bright Nights at Stanley Park, Vancouver.
I tweeted this pic of Annie and Ben last night.