Is it "magical" though? Really?
Maybe I just don't like that word very much: magical. It implies fairytale perfection, which is just plain far from the truth pretty much always. Now, I appreciate and enjoy the holidays as much as the next gal; I value them; I enjoy them. But I understand that nothing about them will be imperfect. Like life in general, once we embrace the truth of realistic expectations, we're much freer to be content and grateful for what things are.
That being said, last weekend we decided to brave the California-cold and the crowds to take our two small children to a Christmas festival that promised to be magical.
There were live carolers and an orchestra, with the beautiful holiday music piped across the quaint coastal village. There was snow trucked in and wreaths on every lamppost. And, the real clincher, there was a spectacular fireworks show above the lit-up pier. Red, green, gold, and silver fireworks boomed and sizzled above the dark waves, timed carefully with the music. Are you thinking magical yet?
Well, you shouldn't be, because actually, it went something like this:
Parking was so difficult my husband dropped off: me, 2 kids in full winter gear, 4 blankets, 2 water bottles, 1 large purse (when it's bigger than a watermelon, is it still a purse?) full of snacks that will spill into a sticky mess, and 1 dinky stroller, and he drove literally to the next town before he found a parking space. We'll skip the sled run and bouncers because the lines are queued down the street. We'll find a spot to picnic on the sand and enjoy the music and atmosphere. We'll cuddle under fleece blankets and eat sandy popcorn and smashed Junior Mints from the bottom of my watermelon-of-a-purse.
Then, my 2-year old will have her only potty accident of the month and pee right through the two pairs of pants, long socks, and boots she is wearing. We'll improvise to keep her clothed and warm.
Just before the fireworks are scheduled to begin, my husband will have to leave to start the trek to pick up our car before the parking meter runs out. It's back to me, bundled kids, and too much stuff.
The blinking holiday lights lining the pier go out and we see the first firework streak into the black sky. The moment we've been waiting for! My 5 year-old leans into me with a grunt, "I really have to go to the bathroom. I can't hold it anymore!"
Hold it anymore? I asked him if he had to go at the restaurant. And then again when we passed the bathrooms by the pier. And then again 10 minutes ago, before the show started. NOW?
I try to make him wait. I stare at the massive pops of light now filling the dark sky and fizzling into the ocean. I smile at my pee-soaked little girl wrapped in a blanket, as she points, cheers, and drops her tiny jaw in awe at the spectacle.
Meanwhile, my son is grunting, whining, shifting. "Really. Have. To. Go."
And so I pack everything up. I try to maneuver the too-full stroller around people, chairs, and splayed blankets, across the sand. Thankfully, a women next to us gets up and helps me, missing the show herself to grab the front of my stroller and help carry it through the crowded sand, to the sidewalk. That is kindness at it's best! Maybe this is a magical evening after all.
The fireworks are at our back as we rush to the nearest bathroom. While he pees, the show ends.
We march down the sandy sidewalk with the parade of hundreds of other people. Stairs. There are 5 stairs between me and the street I need to get up to. I stop and stare at them as people rush past.
I give it a go and ram the stroller, with my baby and overflowing supplies in it - up the ominous cement, making it to the third step. Just as I'm about to try and Heeman-heave it up the rest of the way in what would have probably been an embarrasing fail, a man from the throngs of passerbyers stops and asks to help me. Yes! I want to hug him.
I take everything back. Admittedly, I'm irrationally angry at my 5-year old for making us miss the show and feeling a bit like I might never leave the house again. And yet, there was some magic - some real holiday goodwill that warmed my heart.
Merry Christmas. Have a magical holiday.