Starry Nights and Memory Making (Kind of)

“Things don’t always work out the way you planned them.”

A statement probably made by millions of parents.

After the flu bug running through parts of our family, we decided to head out for a night of memory making. My incredible wife had Saturday night planned out and off we went to Starry Nights at Shelby Farms. At least that’s the way it started. After waiting in line for about half an hour we learned that the gates to Starry Nights would not be open to cars for another half hour. We had a decision to make. Do we stay in line and wait it out with my 5 year old screaming directly into the depths of my inner ear or do we get out of line, eat dinner, and come back later?

The decision rested in my hands. If patience is a virtue, I am in a great deal of trouble. Skipping the 30 minute wait, I made the executive decision to let Kevin experience one of the joys of the USA: a Five Guys Burger and Fries. As we stuffed ourselves on bottomless fries, I knew we had made the right decision. At least that is what I thought. After topping off the burger and fries with some Baskin Robbins ice cream and sending us all into a self- induced food coma, we set out to get back in line and experience the joy of Christmas lights as a family.

What happened in the next two hours was going to be kept in the Brady family but I thought it might brighten someone’s day. As we got closer to Shelby Farms, I noticed that the line from the east bound side was quite long. I contemplated cheating and going to the light and cutting over but chose to be a rule follower and head to the line on Walnut Grove that started just shy of Nashville.

With my blood pressure rising and my continuous rant on why the line was not moving faster than my high school 40 time, we sat. We sat longer. We moved inches and we sat longer. After 1 hour and 40 minutes of waiting we had reached the entrance. I liken the joy to Clark Griswold reaching Wally World for the first time. The Christmas music was on, the kids were unbuckled, the windows were down, and we were ready to experience pure Christmas light joy when one single word was uttered: baño.

Yes, Kevin said he needed to use the bathroom. We had just gone under the entrance and he needed to go to the bathroom. Let the discussion begin.

Can we turn back? Of course not, we were in a line of 200 cars.

Can he pee in a cup? I offered and you should have seen the look on his face.

Could he hold it? No chance, we were far from being finished with this joyful experience (sarcasm included).

The only option: a recon mission. It was settled. My oldest son would jump out of our paused car, dash into the woods with Kevin and then sprint back to catch up with us as we moved down the road. The mission was a go for launch. Preston and Kevin made a mad dash for a darkened area of the woods. As sweat poured out of my armpits, all I could hear was Preston shouting “he can’t get his belt loose in the dark.” The tension mounted and finally bursting forth from the darkness emerged my oldest son carrying Kevin and sprinting towards the van. After a throw and a dive back into the van, the night had been saved.

The rest of the drive was spent laughing and enjoying the wonderful lights of Starry Nights in Shelby Farms. Since it was already 10:30 at this point, we decided to stop at the Mistletoe Village, see the animals, and attempt to get Kevin and Emma to ride a camel. Emma jumped right on but Kevin wanted no part of that experience. Carrie and I figured after a mad dash into the woods, we really shouldn’t push it.  The drive home was a quiet one with most everyone falling asleep.

What a night! Sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned. Looking back on it, I wouldn’t have any other way. Parents are supposed to be chief memory makers whether the original plan works out or not. I guess we accomplished that Saturday night.

Take a lesson from me and remember that even the memories that might stress us out at the time might end up being the best of them all. Cherish every second. I can honestly say now that I am thankful for the experience.


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