It’s two o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, and my 2-and-half-year-old and I are making our second trip of the day to the “Christmas house.” A few streets over, it’s already covered in wonderful lights, with a lawn full of blow-up characters and animatronics, some of which dance and sing songs. She is mesmerized by the scene. For her, it might as well be Disneyland. And for me, an exhausted, overwhelmed, desperate mom of four, it is the easiest, cheapest, most wonderfully accessible provider of happiness and entertainment that my mothering eyes have ever seen. I am so grateful to these people for going all-out on their house, and they have no idea.
The begging starts about an hour after she wakes up in the morning. Once her breakfast has settled and it’s time to start playing, the “Christmas House” is the first thing on her mind. Luckily, it lines up pretty perfectly with my coffee craving, so first we make a quick stop at Starbucks. I’m usually still in some form of glorified pajamas or sweats, my feet in a pair of comfy suede clogs or Uggs.
She perks up the minute we turn onto the right street, and I can see the excitement on her face in the rearview mirror as we get close. Once we arrive, she is instantly entertained. Even though we have been so many times before, her enthusiasm never wavers. In fact, she might even get more excited each time. I park the car, and we stay for a while. Usually I let her unbuckle and climb around the car for various viewing angles. We roll the windows down and then back up, listening to the singing snowman and cackling Grinch. And we have our daily talking points, listing small things about each character, identifying the largest and smallest hanging snowflake, and laughing about the tiny mouse hidden at the bottom of the blow-up chimney. All the while, I sit comfortably in my heated driver’s seat, sipping my coffee with my toddler fully contained.
Some days, we get out (usually when it’s a bit warmer or if we have bundled up a bit), pacing in front of the display as she watches and chats. We’ve even made some new friends on the sidewalk in front of our Christmas house — ones who are there for the same reason. The kids run and dance together in front of the scene as us moms bond over the hilarity and genius of the situation.
And it doesn’t just provide morning entertainment. This is an all-day affair. We do afternoon pop-ins and don’t even get me started on the post-dinner drives. A little hot chocolate, a few blankets, and a drive down to the neighborhood #almostdisney with the light show on full display — it’s truly a Christmas miracle.
So, thank you to all the holiday house decorators. While there may be a variety of motivations for your decorating — self-expression, personal enjoyment, neighborhood fun — you are very likely (and maybe unknowingly) providing some much needed relief and happiness for exhausted local moms. And fear not if you see the same minivan driving by multiple times a day, sometimes stopping for long periods of time — no anxiety or police alert needed — we are desperate, and you are our greatest lifeline. So from all the moms out there, we owe ya one.
Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.