Today we took our annual pilgrimage downtown to see the lights at temple square. I can’t remember how many years we’ve been doing this for but it’s probably around 6 or 7 years now. Lori’s family has gamely joined us each year and I know my kids look forward to riding on the train with her kids. In past years, the trip was major affair involving several strollers, baby carriers, multiple potty stops, etc. This year Lori and I commented on how nice it was to not have any kids in strollers and to be able to get through the night with only one major potty stop for everyone.
Riding Trax the Train is about the same each year. Now that we have seven people in our family it’s actually more cost-effective to take a car downtown but the train is fun, the kids like it, and we don’t have to worry about parking. Now that we live in South Jordan, we definitely get our money’s worth because we ride the train from one end the line to the other. The tricky part is timing it so that we arrive at Lori’s stop at the same time as Lori so that she doesn’t have to wait to long for us and we don’t have to get off and wait for her. Each year we manage the feat with lots of coordination by cell phone and lots of patience by Lori and her crew.
The lights on Temple Square probably haven’t changed in 30 years but I still can’t help feeling each year that somehow there aren’t as many lights and it just isn’t as awe-inspiring as I remember it being when I was a kid. As a kid it seemed like the whole world sparkled and every tree was lit. As a grownup I just notice which trees aren’t lit and wonder why they didn’t light them.
After doing this pilgrimage for the past few years we’ve developed a pretty good routine: potty stop on the bathroom on the west side. Stroll around by the Assembly Hall, try to avoid the couple and sister missionaries, try to herd the kids away from the nativity scene (we learned our lesson a few years ago when the kids were running around and making noise while people were reverently trying to listen to the program) stroll over to the main street plaza, find a place for a picture, take a picture that doesn’t look very good, look at the water pond, tell the kids not to get their hands wet and cold in the water pond, get mad at the kids for getting their hands wet and cold in the pond, and head back to the train station to go to Training Table for dinner. This year, however, we decided to change the routine. Nancy campaigned to go somewhere beside Training Table. The kids weren’t really happy about it but Nancy was campaigning fairly strongly so we decided to walk to the downtown Macaroni Grill.
As soon as we walked into the Macaroni grill with 7 glowing and energetic kids I wished we would have gone to training table instead. Macaroni Grill wasn’t too crowded but the people that were there were all businessmen and couples on dates. One of the arguments for Macaroni Grill over Training Table was that Macaroni grill was closer – we wouldn’t have to catch the University line train. Unfortunately, even though they weren’t crowded it took a while to set a table for 7 kids and four adults, it took a while to order, it took a while to be served, it took a while to eat, and it took a while to pay and leave. In hindsight Training Table would have probably been faster because it the kids know exactly what they want, we order as soon as we get there, and we get up and leave when we’re done without waiting for the check. Training Table also has the added benefit of not worrying too much about disturbing businessmen and couples on dates.
After Macaroni Grill we walked back to the train station and were lucky enough to run and catch the train just as it was about to leave so we didn’t have to wait. The kids weren’t nearly as boisterous on the ride home with a full belly as they were on the trip downtown. In fact, most of them were asleep in the car by the time we pulled into the garage.
Thanks to Lori and her family for putting up with us and gamely carrying out the tradition with us each year!