Traditions are important – perhaps now more than ever with all of the challenges and changes we’ve faced since the onset of COVID-19.  Traditions mark some of the most important moments in our lives, from personal milestones like birthdays and weddings, seasonal celebrations such as Thanksgiving, and religious holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah. The more important the moment, the more extravagant the tradition.

Holiday traditions typically burst with pageantry. These bells and whistles serve as a signal to all of our senses that this is no common occasion; it is one full of significance and meaning. The sheer visual and accompanying musical experience help create lasting memories of these occasions and mark them as special events worth cherishing.

But every family is different, and for every traditional way one family celebrates the holiday season, there are just as many unique ways to mark the occasion. These traditions are more than just ways we typically celebrate something.  They bring us closer. They allow us to share special moments with family and friends, strengthening our inter-personal connections in meaningful ways.

The last two years have been anything but traditional. For that reason, and to the extent we can, we should take time to bolster these critically important connections with our loved ones through the shared experience of celebration.

One tradition in which we can all participate is the Nature in Lights display at the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area.  For the 25th year in a row, 5-and-a-half miles of BLORA’s roads will be lit up with more than 100 displays, ranging from military-themed displays like Santa firing rounds from a tank to the entire 12 Days of Christmas song represented in lights.

The crew that erects and maintains the displays works year-round building new ones, while also repairing those that already exist. Each year a unique selection of displays begin going up in August to be ready for the holiday season.

Visitors slowly weave their way through the displays from the comfort of their own vehicles while pausing every so often to take the occasional photograph.  A few stops along the way at Santa’s Village is a great idea to stock up on snacks and various arts and crafts.  The park’s public restrooms are open as well.

The display can be enjoyed now through Jan. 5. Tickets are $20 per vehicle, and slightly more for larger vehicles. The Nature in Lights Display is located at BLORA, 7999 Sparta Road. For more information or advance tickets, call 254-287-2523.

In the meantime, remember the importance of tradition and celebration as we enter the holiday season; there is no better time to reflect, reconnect, and be thankful for the many blessings we as Americans and Soldiers all enjoy.