Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves. ~Eric Sevareid
So another year is coming to a close, marked by the beginning of the Christmas season. This past Friday was Light Up Night in Pittsburgh and, as tradition dictated, I took Kyle. Earlier in the day, he had his school fall musical. It’s always so much fun watching Kyle. He seems to enjoy the attention of being on stage and singing. Mom and I were in the front row, smiling and snapping pictures as with everyone else in the gym. Pretty much as soon as the musical finished up, we left for Pittsburgh.
Heading straight for PPG Place, we made a pit stop at the local Subway to grab a quick sandwich. You see, PPG Place is the perfect setting for a Christmas wonderland. They erect a huge ice rink around a Christmas tree towering 64 feet in the air. Not to mention, all the small trees lining the streets draped in small white lights giving an outline to their shape. It’s really a sight. What makes it more touching is the walk around the rink and the ice skaters circulating the tree. They are the survivors or family members or friends of those who have battled cancer. They walk and ice skate around holding up light sticks attached with a tag containing a loved ones name. It’s really inspiring. Sad, but inspirational. No matter how many times I witness this part of Light Up Night, it still really takes my breath away. Then they do a count down to light up the Christmas tree.
As I stood there I couldn’t help remembering the first time I took Kyle to Light Up Night. We stood in pretty much the same spot we have since we started going. He was a little guy then, probably about six years old - the perfect age. I was still able to pick him up. As I stood beside Kyle, I realized those days are long gone and new and different memories are awaiting us.
I remembered Kyle was so amazed by Pittsburgh at our first Light Up Night, especially PPG Place, that he said, “I bet it’s larger than Washington D.C.!” I told him, “I don’t think so.” He stared at the top of the glass tower with amazement and commented that, “It’s like a castle, Aunt Heather.” I laughed and agreed with him. One of the years, I remember which one, he kept staring up into the sky. Finally I asked him, “What are you staring at?” He responded by saying, “Wouldn’t it be really cool if Santa would just fly over us right now and drop my gifts using a parachute?” That’s my Kyle, always thinking of how he was going to get his presents. I had to give him credit, that was a pretty cool thought.
We always do a tour of the gingerbread houses, set-up around a train set, inside of the PPG Place. They also have statues of Santa Clauses from around the world. It’s always crowded, but totally worth it. Kyle has always loved trains. Besides seeing Santa, this is probably his favorite part, watching the trains chug around the homemade gingerbread houses. This year we had to stand there until the three levels of trains crossed their tracks at the same time at the same spot in perfect timing. I thought we’d have to wait all day but, you know what, Kyle called it and we stood and watched it happened.
We did the usual making our way around Market Square, weaving up and down the streets, showing off decorative windows, ice sculptors in the streets, and activities along the way before arriving to our ultimate destination, Point Park. Down at the point is the Santa Spectacular. There’s a stage with singing and dancing entertainment before good old St. Nick arrives. This year, we made it in good time to be front row. Good thing since, in the past, I had to hold Kyle up to see the action on the stage. This year, that would not be possible.
The first time Kyle saw Santa on stage, he could not contain himself. He yelled at Santa to look in his direction. Of course, so did about a thousand other children. You see, once Santa sings a little, he throws these fire balls at buildings and then fireworks go off. Then, his last fireball is thrown at the point where the Christmas tree lights up. In the past, Kyle could hardly believe his eyes seeing such a sight. I remember him telling my parents all about it for weeks after the event. And you know what, Kyle still remembered the fireballs this year and was equally excited to see them again.
Kyle is aware of the real meaning of Christmas, but it’s hard to get past his thoughts of presents all the time! Well, I still have years ahead of me to continue instilling the giving and reaching out to those in need. Christmas does hold a certain amount of memories and I’m glad Kyle is able to capture them.