I wish Buddy the Elf was was a real life character because I know we would be best friends. I love Christmas. Everything and everyone seems happier, more joyful, there are parties and festivities unlike any other during the year, and a giving spirit flows through people. I love holiday traditions like going to Trail of Lights at Zilker Park, seeing the light show at Mozart’s Coffee, and drinking rum hot chocolate around a firepit at Moontower Saloon.
This is the story of what happened when I went to the opening of the Trail of Lights.
Trail of Lights is an annual Austin event where the beloved Zilker greenbelt is transformed into a wonderland filled with light displays and Christmas wonder from the beginning of December until the end. This was the second year for me to attend with two lovely friends Zach and Jenn. The opening weekend is free to enter, so that is when we planned to go.
Since this was the opening night, and it was a free night, the park was packed. As in, you had to go with the flow of walking traffic or else you may get shoved over. Being surrounded by so many people was a blessing in the end because it kept me warmer than I would have been without. Staying warm was key that evening because there was a sharp chill in the air at 38 degrees.
Walking through the Trail of Lights entrance tunnel was the beginning of a night that reminded everyone of the magic of Christmas. Like herds of cattle, thousands of people walked along the park trail to see displays varying from How the Grinch Stole Christmas to Beauty and the Beast.
The trail diverged at a few points to lead to vendors and other attractions, including a carousel and ferris wheel. Jenn and I were on a constant search for lattes, but unfortunately, we didn’t find lattes or any coffee vendors. Instead, we found food. Lots of food. At this point, we’ve been in the park for about an hour; I was losing feeling in my fingers and toes. As an effort to get part of me warm, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich from Wholly Cow Burgers which definitely helped ward off some of the numbness. Wholly Cows was stationed right near the base of the ferris wheel, and looking up at it, I could only imagine how many proposals would take place there over the course of the next few weeks.
Zach being a native Austinite has attended Trail of Lights throughout his entire life, and he made sure we saw the important parts of the park one which is favorite. Have you ever seen a yule log? Me neither. Not until that evening. There is a giant log on fire in a ditch. Zach explained how back in the day the fire used to be a lot hotter and larger, but they’ve had to tone down over the years due to burn bans and what not. The log is a little further away in its own section, away from the lights and vendors. In that moment I was able to take in a little bit of the Christmas magic of the season. The three of us were standing in a moment of calm away from the crowds. We could see the rest of the Trail lit up in the distance. Being there with some of the wonderful people in my life was the first reminder of what is truly important in this world, and this season. I had a busy “high season” between different graphic design and photography projects; I needed the moment to remind myself that the holiday season is more than the hustle of it. The holiday season is a reminder that love, family, and friends are more important than our individual lives.