December 30, 2013 in Reflections on Pop Culture
Bellevue, WA is a city east of Seattle, located near the interchange of two extremely congested highways. It is home to a multitude of high-rise business offices, apartment buildings, and the biggest upscale shopping center in our area. In other words, I try to stay as far away as possible to avoid the traffic and the crowds…except at Christmastime, when Bellevue turns into a magical fairyland of Christmas delights that I can’t stay away from.
This year, I managed to partake in two quintessential Bellevue Christmas activities that I have never done before.
Bellevue Botanical Garden d’Lights
I have been wanting to visit the Garden d’Lights for several years now, but somehow this activity always manages to get pushed aside. Not this year, though! I was determined to see the over ½ million lights arranged in whimsical scenes, and I heard there was even a “scavenger hunt” of sorts, where you could seek out certain creatures hidden in the light displays. What could be more fun than that?
As it turns out, a lot of things, actually.
First of all, it was rainy and cold: not the best combination for an outdoor excursion. Secondly, I went with five boys: my three plus two of their friends. The final hurdle? Of the five boys, absolutely zero of them wanted to be there and they weren’t shy about letting me know.
The lights were beautiful, at least as far as I could tell between trying to keep the five boys together as a group and breaking up their impromptu wrestling matches. It’s safe to say I missed a lot, including a marriage proposal that I didn’t even know was happening until the boys told me about it in the car. No one was interested in the scavenger hunt, and although the displays were beautiful, it was much too short. We had walked the entire grounds in approximately five minutes, leaving me with an entire Friday night still to fill.
You can visit every night from 5:00pm-10:00pm through January 4, 2014.
Snowflake Lane in Bellevue Square
Since we needed something else to do after the Botanical Garden d’Lights and no one wanted to see Frozen in 3D with me, we decided to get some dinner at Bellevue Square.
In many ways, this was a ridiculous idea. Trying to find a restaurant with availability for a party of six on a Friday night during the peak of holiday shopping at one of the most popular malls in our area which just happened to play host to a Christmas show in the street, snarling up traffic for hours? What was I thinking?
We tried waiting at The Cheesecake Factory, but that place was a madhouse and the kids were hungry and grumpy, so we bailed out and tried to find somewhere else to eat. Just when I was beginning to despair that we’d have to eat at McDonalds, we stumbled upon a bit of Christmas magic. One of the restaurants, Cactus, had a 45 minute wait, but the people due to be seated next didn’t show. Not only did we get seated immediately, we got the prime spot in the restaurant: a window view overlooking Snowflake Lane just in time for the show to start!
I’m sure we were a sight: five boys and one grown woman with our knees up on the seats, our backs to the table, and our noses pressed to the window to watch the snow fall on the toy soldier drummers, the women singing and dancing, and the audience member pulled onto the street to show off his dance moves. It was a wonderfully warm way to see Snowflake Lane for my first time, and because we stayed for dinner and dessert, by the time we left the traffic had eased enough to make it a painless drive home!
Snowflake Lane is definitely something I’d like to visit again, but I’ll have to wait until next year.