Like seeing the bats, or watching a UT football game, or stepping foot inside the old “Austin City Limits” taping studio, there are just some Austin-y things that it’s taken me an embarrassingly long time to do. Last week, I was determined to rectify one of them: Seeing the Trail of Lights.

“I have always, ALWAYS wanted to go!” I wrote my friends last week in an email guaranteed to entice, with different colored fonts (to express delight) and intermittent capitalization (to express urgency).

“Ok!” they agreed. “We’ll go see the Trail of Lights.” I replied back, as one does, with emoticons and exclamation points.

I know it’s not environmentally friendly, but damn I love me some Christmas lights. It’s like the circus, one of those things that you know you should disapprove of but you can’t, not completely, because hell — you were four once. And while I know now that circus animals are whipped and I’m able to restrain myself from buying a ticket to the Frank Erwin Center every time Barnum & Bailey’s comes to town, I’m not going to pretend like I don’t drive along the upper deck and think to myself, “OMG! Elephants!!!!! Wearing HATS!” when I see them lumbering around the Frank Erwin parking lot.

Because like Christmas lights, elephants are amazing.

One of the first dates Ross and I ever had was a walk down 37th Street in Hyde Park to see the miniature, home owners’ version of Trail of Lights, where each residence — well, the awesome ones anyway — power up a small country’s worth of electricity in their yard, to the appreciative ooh’s and aah’s of passers by. I also went on a Jeep ride a few Christmases ago¬†with a handful of friends¬†to go gawk at light-filled neighborhoods around Austin, and it is still one of my favorite grown-up holiday memories.

Here’s something else about Christmas lights. Not only do they restore your inner four year-old, but they attract legions of actual four year-olds, which also makes the Trail of Lights so entertaining. As we strolled around, Nicki and Amy and I, for about an hour and a half or so last night, we caught snatches of little kid conversation:

“Look at the big huge Gingerbread Man!”

“The Christmas dinosaur is my friend.”

“I see Jesus!”

“Can I go get into that gingerbread house?”

“Can I eat the gingerbread house?”


“I’m spinning! Mommy I’m spinning!!”

And it’s true, she was spinning, underneath that gigantic Zilker Christmas tree. So we got in the middle and spun, too.

We giggled and got dizzy, like little kids do.