It didn't take long for their heads to fall forward, bobbing with each bump in the road. It was past their bedtime, the car was warm, and Christmas music was playing. I wanted to be asleep, too. But I wasn't. As the parent, it was my job to drive them home. And as the parent, I got to enjoy a few moments of quiet calm.
We had spent the evening at Zoolights. That's what the advent calendar told us to do, and coincidentally, it lined up with the first night it hadn't rained in 2 weeks. Parking was a nightmare, the crowds were thick. We almost opted out. But we didn't. For the first time, we didn't have screaming, crying babies in arms or strollers. We walked through, looking at the lights. We held hands. We talked about the animals. A middle school choir sang "Frosty the Snowman". And while it wasn't the pastoral image of Christmas celebration, for us city dwellers, it was what we know Christmas to be.
But it was the ride home that felt like real Christmas. The thank you's all around for the effort at making it a positive experience. The boys munching on gingerbread cookies that their teachers had so lovingly made . The lights of downtown as we drove home. And then the quiet. Two bowed heads - one in a red cowboy hat, the other in a Santa hat. "Silent Night" on the radio and Christmas lights on houses. And that feeling in the deepest part of you that things are right in your world.