Christmas Lights Butchart Gardens

The closest thing Victoria has to rival the Christmas lights of Japan is the show on view at Butchart Gardens. Keen to view the displays as close to Christmas as possible, I ventured out yesterday around 4 o’clock thinking I might catch sunset too. Well dream on.

Everything was just fine as I left the Pat Bay Highway for Keating Cross Road. Already the skies were streaked with orange and pink—a most welcome change from the socked-in grays we’ve had recently. But at West Saanich Road a sandwich board announced a 90-minute wait to get into the gardens. Surely not.

Ordinarily, the journey from my home takes all of 25 minutes. However, as I turned the corner the traffic was bumper to bumper. The closer we got to the Wallace Drive intersection the slower things got until they ground to a standstill. I was reminded of a trip to Korankei Gorge in Japan to view autumn leaves. I wondered then why people would do this, and I wondered again.

At the intersection police officers directed traffic—most of which coming from three directions had the same destination in mind. Two hours later I finally entered the gates. Once in, the capable staff who are well-seasoned in handling the crush directed traffic to available parking.

Though I’ve seen it before (minus the traffic jam as I went earlier in the season) the spectacle is worth it. Alas, neither my skill as a photographer or my phone camera (though it’s better than I am) are up to conveying that splendor here. Today, neither are my words.

I wandered happily in the crisp 3-degree air on which wafted the jaunty tunes from carolers and The Festive Brass—marred occasionally by the piercing shrieks of toddlers whose parents seemed to find it musical. The millennial parents’ idea of an extemporaneous descant line, I suspect. Shrug. It’s Christmas. Why be a humbug about it?

Gifts bought, food prepped mise en place, wines stocked, the tree glowing, beloved carols as rendered by choice choirs (pitch-perfect and shriek-free) play. Finally, after three years I spend Christmas in my own home in the company of people I enjoy. It’s easy to be magnanimous.

While the gentle winter sun slowly opens its eyes, let us all bring more light and compassion into the world.   ~D. Avelin~


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