The "Minivan Express" Reminds us Why Family is Important

Friday, December 6, 2019 will go down as one of the best nights I've ever had in the 5 years running the Boise Christmas Lights project.

Sure, we saw some really cool light displays, and we were able to update a couple entries on our map listings. That's always fun and productive for us.

Sure, we had dinner beforehand at the Rib Shack Barbecue in Eagle, which is easily one of my favorite places to eat in the entire Boise area. Get the burnt ends and smashed potatoes.

Sure, my sister Gracie and her husband were with me, and we were enjoying each others company the whole trip.

But what tops it all, and what is prompting me to take some time to write this blog post, is something really special I encountered tonight. Something totally unplanned, it maybe took up 2 minutes of my time, but I will always remember it.

The Quickest U-Turn I've Ever Made

The three of us were checking on some homes on Lionbridge Place in Eagle. The homes on the street looked awesome, so we took some pictures so we could add them to our map listings. As we were leaving the neighborhood, a minivan pulled into the neighborhood and passed us. We all immediately noticed that the minivan was all decked out with Christmas lights on the inside!

I immediately thought to myself, I gotta turn around and see if I can flag that van down for some pictures. The people on our Facebook page would love to see pictures of this whole "pimp my van" kind of thing!

So I flipped a U-turn before I got to the main road, and sure enough the van had slowed down and was looking at the same homes. I asked Gracie if it would be weird if I ran into the street and flagged them down. She said no, and that I should do it. So I ran up to the van and the man rolled his window down.

I told them how awesome the van was, and I told them I was with a Facebook page called Boise Christmas Lights, and asked if it was alright if I snapped a couple quick pictures of the van to share on my page. They happy obliged, and I could tell they were just having such a fun time driving around in that lighted van!

All Aboard The "Minivan Express"

The mother excitedly told us, "This is the Minivan Express!" And before I could ask what that was, the whole family explained what they were up to. Each year, they hide tickets to the Minivan Express, and once the kids find the tickets, they all get dressed in their comfy pajamas, load up the lighted van, grab some Dutch Bros and drive around to see Christmas lights.

And they weren't kidding. Even the parents were in pajamas, and everyone had their cup of Dutch in hand to keep warm. They had just come from seeing lights in the Boise area, and I had caught up to them as they were checking out Lionbridge Place. Their next stop was the Legacy neighborhood further west of us.

I could tell they were legitimately having a blast. The joy on their faces was very real. Their smiles were contagious. They were enjoying spending time with each other and seeing the lights.

This is the textbook definition of "quality family time", in my opinion. And that's when I realized this encounter was going to be much more than just snapping a quick photo for likes on Facebook. It teaches us a valuable lesson, and it helped reinforce why I do this project.

Why Family is Important

One of the main reasons I've kept the Boise Christmas Lights project running, even when I run into the red with gas costs, is because I know that quality family time is so important. Seeing Christmas Lights is one of the few free activities that you can do around the holidays. And families love seeing lights together!

Above is a picture of my family on my wedding day - my mom and step dad, my brother, and my sisters with their spouses and my one niece. This was a great day that we got to spend together as a family. Sometimes I get emotional when I think about my dad. He was killed in a car accident over 10 years ago. I miss him dearly.

And I'm being honest, life just gets busy. We have jobs and responsibilities. Some of us move away to a different city. It's safe to say that the average family just doesn't get many opportunities to spend with each other. It happens.

But this just means that we need to cherish these family moments whenever we get the chance. The Christmas season is a great time to do that. It's my hope that we all will find time to spend with our families this holiday season. Maybe it's a big Christmas dinner, opening presents together, or just hopping in your own "Minivan Express" and seeing the lights.

Wishing you all the best this Christmas season,
William Higginson
Admin of Boise Christmas Lights