NEW BRAUNFELS — People who know me know that I love Christmas. I like to decorate early, put up the tree early, shop early, all of that. I’m that guy. This year, I started even earlier than normal because of all the negativity in the news about the election and the coronavirus. We had one tree up in our house before Halloween, and on All Saints Day, we put up two more. There’s just something about the positive spirit of Christmas that appeals to me, so every year, I go all in.

With that in mind, I know that people are stressed out and need some Christmas cheer a littler earlier than normal. So I started searching around for Christmas-related activities in the area. Truth be told, it’s a bit early for that, with one exception – Santa’s Ranch in New Braunfels.

Santa’s Ranch is a drive-thru Christmas light display that is right next to the outlet mall in New Braunfels. Depending on traffic as you pass through Austin, it takes about 90 minutes to get there. You can take in an afternoon of shopping at the mall, and then head over to see the lights at the ranch at 6 p.m. when they open.

Santa’s Ranch is right off I-95 and is hard to miss once the sun sets. As soon as you pull in you are greeted by a 500-foot-tall Christmas tree.

The display is a little more than a mile long and features 1.5 million lights. That’s right. A million and half lights on all custom-made displays.

I have been through several drive –thru Christmas displays in my lifetime and this one, in true Texas fashion, is just bigger and better than all the rest.

The display starts out with several patriotic displays that are all set in a red, white and blue theme. After that, drivers see a sign that says, “In the beginning …” From there, you see displays that depict the cosmos and the universe in general. Then comes about a quarter mile of dinosaurs. Be sure to roll down you windows while driving. All the displays  have speakers near the displays. I could hear the kids in the truck in front of me squealing in glee at the roars of the dinosaurs.

After that begins a long stretch of Bible-themed displays starting in the Old Testament and working their way until the birth of Christ. This stretch is about a half mile long.

Shortly after the nativity scene, the winter wonderland and Santa related displays begin. The whole display is impressive, but I was particularly taken with the gingerbread house. So many lights!

At the end of the drive is an opportunity to get some fresh hot cocoa and some hot kettle corn for a snack.

The whole drive takes about 30 minutes, but when you pay, you are actually buying a pass for the day, so you can drive through again of you like.

If you are like me and stressed out by all the negativity in the world today, this is a trip that will calm your mind and instill in you the yuletide spirit.

Santa’s Ranch is located at 9561 I-35 North in New Braunfels. For more information about the ranch, please visit www.santasranch.net.