Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December: One-Minute Vacations

When I was brainstorming possible topics for December, I thought, we all just need a vacation this month. The thought of writing about craft, business, editors--any of it--made me want to take a nap.

What we really need in December is a nice break. A daily retreat, if you will. Doesn't that sound nice?

I'm dedicating myself to finding the perfect one-minute vacation each and every post this month. That's not to say I'm taking the month off from writing. I'm not. In fact, I'm writing a first draft as we speak. But we all are dealing with extra obligations, including Christmas cards, holiday baking, additional children's activities, endless shopping, and inevitable illnesses. I vowed I would not add even the tiniest weight to your already full load.

So today's one-minute vacation takes place in Richmond, Virginia. Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens hosts an incredible Christmas light display each year. To see a few photos of this lovely tradition, go to the 2008 GardenFest of Lights Images.

We attended it a few years ago and had a lovely evening. The weather was downright balmy for December, and we smiled as our children scampered along the decorated paths. Our favorites were the indoor conservatory's Christmas cottage and the maze located in the children's garden. Steaming cups of hot cocoa completed the family fun.

This year, we're planning on attending the Toledo Zoo's Lights Before Christmas display. Should be another night to remember!

Do you have a special holiday light display you attend each year?

Join me on Friday for another short break from the season's chaos!


  1. We go to Mount Dora about 20 miles from here. They light up this huge park and it is warm and nice to walk through it:)

  2. We did actually drive through a park's light display this weekend, Hubbard Park. Some of the displays were so intricate - a globe for world peace, swans on the pond, that sort of thing. The lights are all white, and very striking against the night sky.

  3. What a great idea Jill!

    My family attends the Trail of Lights each year here in Austin, TX. An array of colored lights splashed across downtown!

  4. One of the best displays (i.e. free) is the electrician's house at the five corners down the road apiece from me. His house and yard are decorated with all sorts of lights and figures. The lights are timed to music and you tune in to his very own radio station.

  5. Here is my comical light display this year: My Christmas tree with lights that only work on the upper half and one candle with operating batteries in one window. ;)

    My husband planned to propose to me at that Toledo light show at the zoo. He threw me off by bending on one knee in front of the Christmas tree.

    I agree. Vacations where families of origin are concerned sometimes aren't vacations at all.
    ~ Wendy

  6. No, we don't. My hubby is a grinch. Or a scrooge. LOL We might go see a boat parade though. It's at night and they're decorated. I think my kids will like it. :-) Hope you have fun!

  7. Being military, I'm not often in a place long enough to really turn something into a tradition. But I do always try to find some big lights show. I love the lights at The Plaza in Kansas City, with their decorated horse and buggy rides. :)

  8. We've been to weddings in Ginter Park. Close to where we live, Newport News park has the best drive through Christmas lights.

  9. There is a beautiful Catholic church with gardens near my house. Every night they have a free Christmas concert and they serve cookies and hot apple cider afterward. There is also a live nativity scene outside. We love it.

  10. Good morning!

    Terri: You had me at "warm." :) Sounds perfect!

    Joanne: Hubbard Park? I would love to see it. It's unusual for the displays to be all white; I'll bet it's spectacular!

    Tamika: Austin sounds like such a fun town! Wish I could see the trail of lights, too!

    CJ: Wow! That sounds awesome!

    Wendy: That's why we're enjoying selfish vacations this month on my blog! And we had to go out and buy more lights this year too. A lot of shorts in the wires...

    Jessica: There's always HGTV specials, right? I didn't know there were boat parades. That would be fun to see!

    Ralene: Always moving is pretty tough. I'm glad you can find something special in each place. Kansas City is a great town!

    John: Oh, I'd love to drive through Newport News Park!

    Angie M: I'm a sucker for live Nativity scenes. Always have been, always will be. And free cookies? I'm jealous!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  11. Great idea!

    Our family always goes to see the Magical Night of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands here in Georgia. We love it, and we go right after Thanksgiving when it's not crowded and the kids can get pictures with Santa!

    Plus, they make these homemade mini doughnuts dusted with powdered sugar that you dip in chocolate sauce, and I swear, it's a little bite of heaven!!!

  12. We go to the Kentucky Horse Park where the 2010 World Equestrian Games is scheduled to be held (huge deal!) to see a light display. It's a driving tour and it has a lot of equine related Christmas lights. Very cool.

  13. I'm going to a Christmas show in Lancaster, PA with my mom. We scheduled it to get away and get "into" the Chrsitmas spirit.
    But last year we went to Longwood Gardens and thought the lights there were fantastic!

  14. What a great idea, Jill! Really inspired, and you're so thoughtful.

    It takes about an hour to drive around the lake at which we live, so each Christmas we fill mugs/sippy cups with hot chocolate and apple cider, and go see all the pretties. It's a great tradition when joined with Christmas music on the radio.

  15. We don't have any really great light displays around here. The best we can do is the house down the street where this guy goes crazy with the lights and inflatables every year.

  16. Beth: I can taste those mini-doughnuts you're describing and I think that in itself is a mini-vacation!

    Heather: Oh, the horses! The light display sounds really cool and unique!

    Jennifer: A Christmas show with Mom? Perfect! I hope you have a special time!

    Janna: I can picture it. What a great night! I'd probably bring an extra thermos of creamy coffee for myself since it's a long drive!

    Natalie: Okay, I'm laughing out loud and scaring my cat! I'm pretty sure every town has the crazy guy who goes overboard with inflatables and lights!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  17. What a great idea! No, we don't do anything. But there's a house not far from us that is so extravangant I feel like I'm at a show every night. I love it!

  18. Oooh, we have zoo lights at the Denver Zoo but I've never been. We got free zoo passes this year so I am thinking we might have to go when it starts. Great idea!

    By the way, I definitely like the idea of a vacation! :D

  19. We light lots of candles in our house. Since the sun is up for less than four hours on the shortest day of the year, the candles really add to the mood.

  20. Thanks for the mini vacation, Jill. Now I want to find lighting events close to home to go to. The zoo one looks great, I'm sure you'll love it.

  21. Our family likes to drive around town after the Christmas Eve service and look at the light displays around town. Some folks get so enthusiastic about lighting their house it looks like runway lights.

  22. The Plaza is the place to go at Christmas around here. It's an upscale, outdoor shopping area. The rooftops of every restaurant, every store, and every office building are lined with lights. It's beautiful.

  23. Jill,

    How fun! I haven't seen it in several years, but I grew up going to see the Burns Fantasy of Lights. It began in the front yard of the Burns family and grew and grew each year. When they died, they willed the display to the college. Here is a link -

  24. Kristen T: I smile at even one strand of lights. Your neighbors sound delightful!

    Cindy: There's something very festive about going to the zoo at night and seeing all the lights. Your kids will love it!

    Paul: Dealing with the extremes of Alaska must be interesting. Candles are a wonderful way to bring the light of the season in.

    Eileen: I'm a big kid at heart. I'm always looking for fun things to do!

    Erica: What a great tradition! And I hear you on the runway lights. I enjoy looking at those!

    Susan: You make me want to walk around the Plaza and stop for a cappucinno. Let's do that!

    Tamara: I'm always amazed at the generosity of others. They've brought so much joy to their area. Thanks for the link!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  25. To live through this season without obligation; to enjoy it with anticipation, how staggering would that be?

    The children are impressed with street lights considering we have none so a drive around our closest town at Christmas is even more spectacular

  26. My little town used to have a display of Christmas lights at the fair ground. But they stopped doing it a few years ago! So now we make an annual tradition of driving around town and looking at lights, sipping hot cocoa, and eating our homebaked sugar cookies.

    I love your one-minute vacation idea for the month! How creative. Are you a writer or something? :)

  27. I love your one-minute vacation idea. I think I'm going to increase it to a five-minute vacation a day. No, not a nap five minutes of my eyes closed with my feet up just resting. December can be very stressful.

  28. Oh crud! I forgot about Christmas cards - dang! And, I agree w/ Sharon, I need at least 5 minutes to allow my body to actually relax. Good reminder this busy busy time of year.

    Our traditions are many -- I'm a tradition fiend. One of my favorites is sitting around a candlelit table (no other lights on). The table is completely covered w/ fruit,nuts and chocolates. We take turns telling stories and singing songs in the candlelight and gobble the treats. It comes from my hubbys Scandanavian roots and is lots of fun!

  29. Our tradition is driving around in our car through neighborhoods and looking at the lights. We love to do that!

  30. Candles always signal Christmas time to me. I love the idea of a one min vacation. I might need to take myself off a lot this month :)

  31. Hi Jill -

    What a lovely idea - a one-minute vacation!

    We usually do a tour of the neighborhood to check out everyone's displays.

    Susan :)

  32. Thanks for taking us on a one-minute vacation, Jill! What fun! Here in GA we enjoy going to the Lake Lanier Island Magical Nights of Lights: a 7 1/2 mile drive featuring literally millions of Christmas lights. It's become a family tradition!

  33. Great idea, Jill! My kids love the Christmas lights. Lately we've been walking around the neighborhood to admire them. It is very relaxing.

  34. Fun one minute vacation! Yes, we attend a lighting at a local hotel where they have cocoa, cider, crafts for kids, santa, choirs singing, and of course, the big lighting. Almost every tree on their lot is packed with lights. Good times!

  35. Biltmore House in Asheville. It is beautiful at Christmas. Problem is, I'm stressing about the rising cost of doing this. A family with more than four (us) it can run into the hundreds.

    There use to be a town near us where every house in the little town was lit up beautifully. This was all paid for by the factory in the town where they all worked. It was gorgeous. But they stopped doing it, because of the rising cost of electricity.

    And so it goes. Wonderful post, Jill. :)

  36. We are headed to the festival of lights for the first time this year here in Albany, NY - so I'm a little excited...might be more so than the kids...but it will be a nice excursion for sure. I like this idea! One-minute vacations can be very healthy!!!

  37. I love the idea of a one-minute vacation! And you're right - with all of December's extra activities, taking a break from the writing craft/business/etc. is completely understandable.

  38. Sande: Welcome! It doesn't take much to get me excited either--a few light up reindeer and I'm thrilled!

    Jody: Sugar cookies...yum! Your tradition sounds fun!

    Sharon: Welcome! I love your idea of a five-minute nap, although a 20 minute nap would be even better!

    Tess: Fruits, nuts, and chocolates by candlelight--I want to snag that tradition! (Congratulations on selling your book, too!!!)

    Katie: This year should be especially sweet now that your little guy is older!

    Tabitha: I adore candles. I love tealights, tarts, any kind really. Rest up this month!

    Susan J: It's fun to tour the neighborhood! Hope you bring coffee and cookies!

    Maria: That sounds incredible! 7-1/2 miles of lights. I want to go!

    Lisa and Laura: Nice! And a good way to burn off little kid energy!

    Georgiana: Boy, that sounds amazing! I know my kids would love it, not to mention me!

    Robyn: I've always wanted to tour Biltmore, but so far I've only seen it through HGTV Lowe's commercials! It's too bad about the cost, especially in these times. I hope you'll be able to attend.

    Amber J: Oh, you're going to have fun! I, too, am usually more excited about this stuff than anyone in my family!

    Melissa: I love the idea of a one-WEEK vacation :) but I'll take what I can get!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  39. Great idea, Jill! Great blog!
    One year, our newspaper here in Normal (good Midwestern name, wouldn't you agree) published "must see" Christmas lights. My husband the plotter Googled up directions, and we sashayed about our town. Did I mention a dessert stop?

    LOVED that night.


  40. Patti: Welcome! I love the idea of sashaying through Normal! Hope you can repeat the experience.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!


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