Christmas Riding of Doom

It’s a fact — according to the Carrot Duchy — that adding “of doom” to the end of anything automatically makes it awesome.

It didn’t really work this time.

One Christmas tradition we always make time for is driving around looking at the lights — what my younger sister and I called “Christmas riding.” Last night we ate supper and bundled everybody into the van for Christmas Riding 2015.

Ten minutes later, we realized that “bundled” was a mistake. While it’s cozily Christmassy to wear sweaters and coats, the fact that it was only 50 degrees outside forced us to strip off layers. Only Gamerboy was comfortable; he had on short sleeves and shorts.

Bookgirl requested to listen to music. I could have just turned on the radio to KLOVE, our usual fare, but figured the occasion called for Christmas music.

For two miles, I searched Amazon Prime on my phone, trying to find music that would pass muster with all listeners. Frank Sinatra singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was not appreciated by the younger set; same for the Ronettes’ “Sleighride.” I nixed Mariah Carey singing “Silent Night”after six vamped-up words. I finally settled on the Pentatonix album, which begins with a wildly jazzed up version of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

Meanwhile, DJ pulled into McDonald’s for hot chocolate. Apparently it threw them for a loop. Six hot chocolates at once! That’s a lot of chocolate! Could you pull over into the waiting area while we try to deal with this? Our therapist will be in soon… So we waited. And DJ requested that we turn off Pentatonix because it was giving him a headache.

The Christmas music of doom had seriously annoyed me by now. I hit the radio button. KLOVE burst forth and I sulked.

We passed out hot chocolate and headed for a stretch of highway I suggested, about ten miles from home. I’d seen several very decorated places, plus one house with over a hundred inflatables in its yard.

The inflatables were all deflated. You have never seen a more depressing Christmas scene than that house.

We did see a few fun houses. Then DJ, who is entirely blinded by love and respect for me and persists in listening to me when I make suggestions for driving routes, started down a narrow little country road that we were pretty sure took us back to the highway.

We wound among dark trees as the road dropped lower and lower among the hills. Twice a sign told us, “Do not cross bridge if covered by water.” So we checked each other to make sure nobody was covered with water. Sparkler said she had hot chocolate on her, but it wasn’t a lot. The road continued to meander over creeks and around bends. The sky was lit up with lights from town several miles away, and Orion drifted among the clouds. It was a captivating drive.

But entirely devoid of Christmas lights.

“If I was Dad,” Ranger remarked, “I’d turn around now.”

DJ didn’t. We stubbornly plowed forward, occasionally pointing out a lonely string of lights here and there. Eventually — very eventually to the younger Christmas riders — we emerged onto the highway that I thought we would have hit much sooner. Turned out we weren’t on the road I thought we were. I’m the GPS of doom.

We headed back to town. By this time Sparkler was expiring of boredom and disappointment. Ranger said it felt like we’d been in the van for days. The older two were fine; one had a laptop and the other had a phone with games on it.

But we got back to our own home territory, where we saw several elaborately decorated houses within six miles of our house. The same ones we always see. Everyone appreciated them — Bookgirl made a joke and Sparkler expressed her rapture.

Back home, there was time for everyone to grab a no-bake cookie before we did the Advent candle for the evening. Well, you couldn’t grab them because they never hardened up like they were supposed to. You had to scoop it up with a spoon. No-bake cookies of doom.

I’m supposed to wrap up here with some inspirational observation about how even imperfect traditions still bring us together as a family in the joy of Christmas.

Right, so at least we still shared a Christmas tradition as a family!

(Of doom)

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