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Posts Tagged ‘family traditions’

(Slightly modified from a previous post on this same blog.)

When my kids were little, we used to drive around looking at Christmas decorations. We lived in Glendale in southern California, near Pasadena. It was a tradition my now ex-husband and I started efore the kids were born. We would drive around looking at the decorations and taking his niece or friends and relatives with us. Our regular route included the Balian mansion (the Balian family owns a creamery and a well known local brand of ice cream), Christmas Tree Lane, and points in between. We went every single year. When the kids were born, we continued the same route, not missing a year until we moved away four five Christmases ago.

On one of the drives to the Balian mansion and then to Christmas Tree Lane, we stumbled across a church that had a live drive-thru nativity presentation. We drove through and loved it. Every year we had to find out in advance which one weekend the performance would be held so we wouldn’t miss it. It was worth having to wait in a long line that wrapped around three or four blocks.  Sometimes, when we finished the drive through the whole nativity, we would go to the end of the line and wait to drive through again.

After my divorce, I tried to keep things as normal as possible for the kids. I continued to take them to see the lights at the Balian mansion in Pasadena and to Christmas Tree Lane and then to the drive-thru nativity. When my youngest, Susie, was about four years old, we were on our way to see the drive-thru nativity. We drove on the 134 freeway and passed by the Huntington Hotel and the Colorado Street bridge that had been closed for earthquake retro-fitting for many years.  On that one particular night the bridge had been re-opened for the first time and was brightly lit. We noticed and commented on  it as we drove by.  We proceeded toward our route to see the decorations and lights.   As we drove through the nativity, I told them story of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem  and having to find refuge in Bethlehem just in time for the birth of the Christ child, as I told it every year.  After the drive-thru nativity,  Susie fell asleep.  The two older kids and I drove around a bit looking at more decorations before heading  home.  Susie was asleep the whole time. As we were driving past the lit up bridge on the way home, Susie opened one eye and we heard her tiny, weary voice say, “Baby Jesus Bridge.” We laughed and asked her what she had said and she repeated it, “Baby Jesus Bridge.” Somehow, she had equated the lit up bridge with the drive-thru nativity during which Baby Jesus was discussed.

We thought it was funny. Susie fell back to sleep and we drove on home. After that night, every single time we drove by that bridge (which was at least four times a week) she would shout out “Baby Jesus Bridge” as we drove by there.  It became a family way to describe how far from home we were  when we traveled on that road.  The rest of us began to call it the Baby Jesus Bridge, too.   As they grew older, everyone was told about the Baby Jesus Bridge: family, friends young and old, and anyone that happened to be in the car with us as we drove by that point.   In a very short time, even their friends were calling it the  Baby Jesus Bridge.  Everyone we knew referred to it that way.  We still call it that. Susie is now seventeen eighteen and we still all call it the Baby Jesus Bridge.

Some traditions, like driving around to view Christmas decorations, are intentional. Some, like the Baby Jesus Bridge, are accidental and somehow more special.  I don’t live in southern California any more but I still have very fond memories of those Christmas excursions and of the Baby Jesus Bridge.

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