Our Jack-A Christmas Eve

Salt Lake is a beautiful city around Christmas and quite a few years ago, we decided to make a tour of the city our Christmas Eve tradition. The evening included the almost half a million lights and nativity at Temple Square, then a drive down Christmas Street, a street on the east side of Salt Lake that connects all of the houses with lights and decorates like an old-fashioned Christmas. A couple of streets over is a block with paintings on the front lawns, lit up beautifully and scriptures that tell the Christmas story from both the Bible and The Book of Mormon.

To finish off a lovely Christmas Eve, we'd drive downtown to Olive Garden for soup and breadsticks. We'd done this for several years and always enjoyed a pleasant Christmas Eve.

Then we moved to Twin Falls, Idaho. We debated how to carry on the tradition. We couldn't just drive to Salt Lake. That was over three hours drive and part of that was over Sweetzer's Pass, an area of I-84 that seems to produce snow flurries every time we drive it. It can be a scary stretch of road.

It was our first Twin Falls Christmas Eve. Travis's mother was visiting and there was some discussion about what we should do to try to carry on something similar to the tradition we'd established. Travis had heard of a live nativity in Pocatello, a town about two hours away. You may be wondering why, for just another hour of driving each way, we wouldn't just drive to Salt Lake. The reason is that we could go to Pocatello without having to travel over Sweetzer's Pass.

I googled Pocatello and Olive Garden and was excited to have an address pop up. So it was decided. We'd go to the live nativity in Pocatello, eat at Olive Garden and then come home. Not exactly Temple Square and Christmas Street, but it was a reasonable substitute.

The first thing we did upon arriving in Pocatello was look for the Nativity. We couldn't find it. Concerned about our timing and not wanting Olive Garden to close before we could eat there, we searched for the address I'd written down. It didn't seem to exist. We stopped to ask directions and were informed that there was no Olive Garden in Pocatello. That address was for an Olive Garden in Idaho Falls, another hour north.

That wasn't going to happen, so we drove by Butter Burr's (a good place we'd eaten before) and found it closed. We drove to a Mexican restaurant (even though the kids did not want Mexican food) and it was also closed. We quickly drove to Red Lobster. The light was on. Whew! We could feed our hungry family. We parked and unloaded and were greeted at the door by the manager, who was locking up for the night. They were closing early. It was Christmas Eve, after all.

We loaded back up in the car and drove our ravenous family around Pocatello looking for somewhere to eat. Travis's mom suggested that maybe we'd have to settle for Jack-in-the-Box. Ick, I thought, but we seemed to be out of choices. We bought yucky hamburgers and watery milkshakes. They weren't good and in spite of our hunger, most of us couldn't finish them.

We weren't in the best of holiday spirits. Determined to try to salvage the evening, Travis stopped and asked directions to the address of the nativity. When we arrived, we saw the remains of what was probably a decent depiction of the stable, but all that was left was an empty manger and a donkey. That was it. No Mary. No Joseph. No baby Jesus. Not even a shepherd or a lamb. Just the donkey.

We headed for the freeway. Snow had begun to fall. It got worse as we drove. It took us over three hours of driving in a blizzard before we finally arrived home and heated up canned soup.

We tried to carry on a Christmas tradition. We failed. Now we can laugh about it and Travis calls it our Jack-A Christmas Eve. (Jack in the box and a donkey. Get it?)

Now we're back in Utah and this year and we've revived our Christmas Eve tradition. I, for one, can't wait to see the lights on Temple Square.


kaylyn said...

Karey it is Kaylyn Hickman I am sitting here laughing my head off because haven't we all had a time like this one!? Too funny I am so excited for you to be back in surroundings you are familiar with and seem excited about. We loved your cute Christmas card and could hardly believe it was the same Savannah. Time just marches on and I can't believe how grown up your family is. We will need to try and get together some time. Thanks for the laugh. Love Kaylyn

Tawnie said...

This is hillarious!!! Great memory.