Have you ever planned something, gotten really excited about it, gotten everyone else excited about it, and then had it fall completely apart? Yep. Here’s a story about just that and how my fabulous husband managed to turn those lemons into lemonade.
Every year, our local zoo has a Christmas extravaganza called Zoo Light Safari. We go every year, and it’s free with our zoo membership. They hold it at night, because there are Christmas lights EVERYWHERE! There’s hot chocolate. And Santa. And magical decorations. And train rides. And the petting zoo. And…it’s just FUN.
So, a couple of years ago, we started planning our annual trip. Molly had recently turned 4 (plenty old enough to understand what was going on). Amelia was a few months shy of 2 (old enough to wonder what the hell was going on). Molly already loved the zoo and couldn’t wait to see it all lit up for Christmas.
We set out that night all bundled up and excited to carry on one of our many traditions. We sang Christmas songs, laughed, and were merry. We drove through Mountain Brook (the fancy part of town that you have to go through to get to the zoo) and oooh-ed and aaahhh-ed at the lights. As Daniel started to turn the car in to the zoo, a sinking feeling hit me.
There were no lights.
There were no other cars.
There was only a closed gate.
Panic ensued. There were quick, sharp, hushed words exchanged between husband and wife. “I thought you checked the zoo schedule.” “I thought YOU checked the zoo schedule!” Then, as Daniel turned the car around, Molly screamed from the back seat: “WHEREAREWEGOINGWHYAREN’TWEGOINGTOTHEZOO?!?!?”
There were lots (and lots) of tears. Amelia had no idea what was going on, but started sympathy crying and screaming.
Honestly, I’m not my best in these types of situations. I really just want everyone to CALM THE %$#@ DOWN so I can think. Thankfully, I married a man who works well under pressure. I’m not really sure what happened in the intervening time frame – pretty sure I blocked it from my memory – but we ended up with dried tears, Chick Fil A dinner, and a picnic. In Mountain Brook village, right in front of one of the fanciest jewelry stores in town, there is an enormous Christmas tree covered in colored lights every year. We spread out our quilt and happily munched on chicken and talked about what we were most thankful for. We got some honks and waves, laughed a lot, and planned to go to the zoo a few nights later.
That has now become one of our most cherished holiday traditions. Four Vanns all piled up on a blanket in the cold (hopefully) weather under a beautiful Christmas tree laughing and eating and thankful for each other.
Daniel is the Tradition Keeper in the family. It is one of his many titles at our house, among The Finder, The Ambassador of Entertainment, The Vat of Useless Knowledge, and many others. A subset of Tradition Keeper is Tradition Maker. It is because of him that we have the silly, fun, sentimental traditions that we have. I cherish all of them, even though I can’t remember half of them from year to year until we’re in the middle of them. He keeps us grounded, joyful, and laughing through the tears.
I guess one of our family traditions is the whole lemons from lemonade thing, which explains our Christmas card this year (which still haven’t been mailed!):
From us to you – Merry Christmas. May all of your holiday traditions bring you joy and gladness!