An Arboretum staffer noticed our fire had more growl than roar and kindly placed another log in the pit to keep the seasonal merriment on simmer. The fire pits are DD’s favorite part of “Illumination” and she always makes a fuss when it’s time to say goodbye to the fire pit. I don’t blame her. After all, who would want to get up from a warm, cozy fire to return to walking in the cold? (Thankfully, like so many families we saw that evening, we took our newly-assembled Radio Flyer wagon to pull her along whenever she grew weary of walking).
The only con to our evening was the excessive darkness on stretches of the path. The pitch blackness is the perfect backdrop for the dramatic displays, but caused much anxiety for parents whose children (like our DD) tended to run ahead of the crowds. Were it not for the light-up Christmas tree wand that blinked in DD’s hand whenever she darted off in the distance my wife and I would have likely lost track of her.
To me the true beauty of “Illumination” is not just the unique way it fills the air with holiday magic, but how it creates moments of togetherness—moments for friends and family, moments to connect with nature, moments of collective amazement.
Towing my five-year-old daughter in her wagon on the walk back to the car through a landscape of pine trees is a memory just as beautiful as any installation we saw that night. All it took to make was the presence of mind to be present. Isn’t that the best holiday gift?
“Illumination” runs through Jan. 5 so as you step into the New Year, plan to take an evening stroll outdoors to BREATHE deeply, LISTEN TO the wind, TAKE JOY in nature.
Disclosure: The Morton Arboretum didn’t request this review, but my family has such a great time at this yearly event I decided to write one. Thoughts, photos, and videos are my own, except where noted.