Our annual Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt was in full swing. It was December 23, and my family and I were in the car driving around to look at Christmas lights. Years ago, we began a tradition of making a list of specific lights and decorations that we thought we would see. Each year we make a new list before heading out, and then as we drive around we shout out when we spot something on the list. My daughter Ivy enjoys being the one to check things off as we see them.
We make it our goal to try to find everything that we put on that list. We take this seriously.
Our list usually includes things like:
There was a close call in 2016 when we searched and searched for the words “Merry Christmas,” and when we had given up and were almost home, there it was in big letters on someone’s garage! We were ecstatic, and we still talk about how we saw “Merry Christmas” at the last minute.
So, this year, we made our list. We are always careful about what we put on it, because we really want to succeed in spotting everything we set out to.
Here is a picture of our 2018 list.
We live in Aumsville, so we usually drive the neighborhoods of Aumsville and Turner. This year, within the first hour, we had spotted almost everything! During the second hour, we checked off most of the last few things. We had a close call with the word “Noel,” which was one of my additions to the list. I kept saying, “I think I shot us in the foot with Noel. I don’t think we are going to find it!”
(Typing that out, I realize it probably doesn’t work to say, “I shot us in the foot…” but I think my family knew what I meant.)
Well, we eventually spotted Noel in a window in Turner. Yess! So all we had left to find was: MOTORCYCLE SANTA.
I’m sure you have seen many an inflatable “Motorcycle Santa” in yards year after year, just like we have. My family thinks it’s absurd to have Santa on a motorcycle, which is probably why we noticed there were always so many of them. (No offense if you have ever had one). So we added him to our list this year without any fear that we wouldn’t spot one.
Well… guess what? We didn’t spot one.
It was ridiculous. We could not figure out why they were all gone this year. In previous years we always saw several! Maybe they had all worn out the same year? They must not make them anymore? We kept driving and thinking of just one more street we hadn’t tried yet. No luck. I even insisted we backtrack over a few streets we had already driven down, but with keener eyes that were focused solely on spotting Motorcycle Santa. No luck. I even Googled “Where have all the Motorcycle Santas gone?” Thinking it was a common problem. I came up with nothing but the option to order an inflatable Motorcycle Santa for my own yard. We were frustrated. We were getting tired. We had been driving around for 2 ½ hours. But like I said earlier, we like to find everything on the list. We even prayed that God would help us find Motorcycle Santa.
But we still didn’t find one. We all went home and wept in our beds. OK, we didn’t take it that hard, but we did go home feeling bummed.
The kids joked about us ordering an inflatable Motorcycle Santa for them to find by the tree on Christmas morning. Honestly, if there was more time, I would have been tempted to do it because it would have been hilarious! Can you imagine them coming out Christmas morning to find a huge Motorcycle Santa in the living room?
But it was 9:30 PM on December 23, so it was too late to order one.
So our 2018 Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt was not a success. It was fun, and we made great memories, especially of desperately seeking that Motorcycle Santa. The next day was Christmas Eve, and I had to run to the store for more wrapping paper. I realized there were a few little cul-de-sacs between my house and the store that we had forgotten to check the night before. I had this excited feeling that I was going to find Motorcycle Santa and surprise my family with the news! Even if he was lying in a flat, deflated heap (since it was daytime), it would still count!!
I didn’t find him.
We carried on with Christmas Eve, hosting my parents for dinner and then going to Christmas Eve service at our new church. I felt happy and blessed for a hundred different reasons. It was a very lovely Christmas this year.
As both kids and I drove away from the church in West Salem, what to our wondering eyes should appear?? MOTORCYCLE SANTA!!
He was in a yard just a couple blocks from our church. The kids and I freaked out! I turned the car around to go back and get a picture.
We were exclaiming, “Finally! We found him! I can’t believe this! Dad is going to be so excited!”
I texted Seth a picture.
I was parked next to the house on a dark street, and my son Isaiah begged me to let him sneak out into the yard to take a selfie with Motorcycle Santa. I repeatedly said no, because it’s rude to walk onto someone’s lawn. We could see lights on inside the house. He just kept begging, and I realized I should just let him be a teenager having some harmless fun. Plus, I thought his photo would be really funny to have! Ivy was all stressed out that I was letting Isaiah go into someone’s yard. She likes to follow rules, like I do.
Isaiah started to tiptoe-run across the yard to get to Motorcycle Santa, but when he was halfway there, the motion sensor lights came on and blasted him in the face! He aborted the mission, turned around and ran back to the car! We all panicked and the kids said, “Go! Go! Drive!”
I took off and we all laughed. That was fun. I’m sure we will talk about it for years to come.
A couple days later, I pondered whether there was any lesson to be learned from our silly quest to find a Motorcycle Santa. I’m always looking for teachable moments.
It quickly came to me that the victory was so much sweeter because we had to wait. We felt elated when we finally found him! We made a lasting memory, both of the feeling of triumph and of the failed attempt to get a selfie. None of that would have happened if we had easily found Motorcycle Santa on our drive to look at lights the night before.
As I thought about it, God reminded me that waiting on Him makes His answer so much better when it finally arrives. Because of the frustration and the longing that occur during the delay, there is so much joy when He does eventually provide.
A few days ago I was praying about my dream of one day writing a book. I said, “It seems like You’re taking such a long time to answer that prayer. What about the verse that says, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart’?” (Psalm 37:4)
And what popped into my mind immediately was, “Motorcycle Santa.”
Oh, yeah! He was reminding me that the waiting makes the victory so much sweeter. It gave me peace. It gave me hope too, looking forward to the time when God will provide the answer.
I want to encourage anyone else who reads this that if you are waiting on God to answer a prayer and give you a precious desire that is planted in your heart, just remember: Motorcycle Santa.
God has great purpose in your waiting. Just continue to draw near to Him so that He can continue to grow your character. It takes time and many acts of obedience on our part for us to be ready for His answer when it finally arrives.
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.