This was another surprise mystery trip for Owen! I got a sitter for Katie so it was a mom and Owen only night!
The local autism society chapter sponsored a trip to the “Festival of Lights” hayride at Mike’s Farm (a local family-oriented business that includes hayrides, Christmas trees, pumpkin picking and a variety of other crops in addition to a home-cooking restaurant).
I knew Owen would love it (he’s always loved lights but this year he loves everything Christmas!) and thought this would be the perfect opportunity because it was a reserved trip and we wouldn’t have to wait in the always-horrendously-long lines.
Of course it started off a little annoying—there was supposed to be someone there with a sign for our group but we walked all over and there wasn’t (and I was only there 20 minutes early). I finally got in the line to get tickets and when I got to the front she said “Oh no you don’t need to pay here…you will pay as a group.” I asked where and she just says “Oh behind the barn.” Oooo-kay. So we walked around again and I finally just stopped and asked some people if there were there for the autism group—and they were. Phew! The lady with the sign finally showed up about 10 minutes before we were supposed to be leaving on our hayride. So, not great planning, but it all turned out okay.
Owen was excited just looking at all the tractors lined up…
On the bales of hay!
Then we started! They played Christmas music which I thought was a nice touch…and it came into play later (which I had been somewhat spoiled by reading the reviews beforehand) but I’ll get to that. Also, we obviously hadn’t been on this before, so the first five minutes were really boring and there were barely any lights and I was seriously thinking “I PAID FOR THIS?!” And then we rounded a corner…
A gingerbread house with gingerbread people—which really excited Owen because they have been dealing with gingerbread all week at school!
“Look! Mama! A snow globe!” I didn’t even know he knew what a snow globe was! (Thinking later, we have a small snow globe ornament on the tree.)
And a still! Only in North Carolina, eh?
I missed shots of the live action scenes because they were behind me and we weren’t supposed to take video—but the action was following along to the song. Of course I don’t remember the song, so Googling led me to “A Soldier’s King” by Kenny Rogers:
No one seemed to notice the man beside the road
He was just a ragged soldier out there in the cold
But he seemed to have a purpose only known to him
As he walked along the streets that night through the town of Bethlehem.
In his head he held a memory of all the wars he’d known
In his hand he clutched a medal for the bravery he’d shown
And the weight of every battle he caried in his heart
But his eyes were clear and searching for a manger in the dark.
As we approached, you saw a guy in cammies start walking in front of us—as if we were following him, just like the song was singing. And then he stopped at the manger and we stopped to watch the scene play out (which was really just listening to the song). I’m an emotional sap—and even moreso at Christmas and even moreso with Tom gone—so I wasn’t really paying close attention and was trying to block out the song so I didn’t lose it completely.
Then we moved on and towards the very end, it was some other jazzy Christmas song where it was talking about snow (heck, it might even have been “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” for all I remember) and it started snowing! They stopped the tractor and just let us sit in it for a minute. Owen was thrilled!
And if I wasn’t already emotional enough, they ended with “God Bless the USA.”
And 30 minutes later—almost on the dot—we were back! I asked if Owen liked it and he did—and he said “Thanks, mama, for bringing me!” I told him I liked doing special things with him and he said “I love doing things with you, too!”
So it was a great night!