For many, Andy Williams was correct in his 1963 hit, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” when he described the Christmas season. This time of year is full of lights, family, good times and good memories. Sure, it could be more stressful and busy, but overall, there is a general warmth in the air, even on the coldest night.
Typically, on Fridays, the Tateosian house is glued to the television watching news, and then “Dateline” and/or “20/20.” Not this time of the year; sorry Keith Morrison and Elizabeth Vargas, we’ll watch your programs later on demand. This time of year our Fridays are busy enjoying the entertainment provided by many generous individuals. Fresno County, and the Central Valley have a long list of celebratory events, including parades that offer free fun for the family.
We’ve already driven down Van Ness, enjoying Christmas Tree Lane, the Fresno area staple. We’ve made the trek to Clovis’ Ladera Ranch to enjoy the cul-de-sac of synchronized lights. This year at the ranch, the next street participated as well, giving us two blocks of fun, instead of one. Then, not too far away, we’ve driven to Cindy Lane to enjoy a block full of entertainment that seems to keep growing each year. At one point, we even followed a horse drawn carriage full of people sightseeing.
All this fun, and the traditions are growing. Driving down Bullard Avenue just west of Maroa, we followed the bright blue star to Winchester Street. There, in front of the home of Stan and Carrie Zulewski was a light show synchronized to music. Full with dancing elves and Santa in the window, we sat in our car for 15 minutes or so enjoying the music and lights.
A tall tree of lights changed colors, keeping us wondering what was next. We weren’t alone. Several other cars were sitting in front of the house watching as well, one car had two kids with half their bodies outside the sunroof. You could tell they were having a blast.
A few years down the road, I could picture my two (soon to be three) kids doing the same thing. The bright blue star is special because it belonged to Jeff Tanielian of Commercial Neon. Tanielian always wanted Stan to incorporate it in the Zulewski’s yearly display. When he passed away, Stan incorporated it into the display as a memory for his friend.
The following Friday, we made a trip to Herndon and Maple avenues to Life Cathedral Church. There, we were greeted by men on horseback directing us to the church grounds. They were dressed like ancient soldiers. As we drove by the church, several scenes from the birth of Christ were being acted out. Costumes and the set-up looked great. They even had a camel.
Our final destination this Christmas is going to be to Bethany Church Fresno. Church volunteers are putting on The Journey to Bethlehem, a drive-thru Christmas experience. This is the fourth year the church has done this. It will be our first, and won’t be our last. Rumor has it that there will be a CD providing narration for each scene depicted during the drive-thru experience.
December has been full of excitement, but Christmas doesn’t end this month. Many churches celebrate Christmas in January, therefore, the fun and lights don’t have to stop at the New Year. Churches around the world, in countries like: Armenia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia and Serbia continue celebrations until the early part of the New Year.
For example, locally, Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church in downtown Fresno will have a traditional Armenian Christmas Eve Dinner on Jan. 5. There are other activities for Christmas planned after December as well.
The lights on my house and the Christmas celebrations will continue through the New Year. If you love this season like I do, you don’t have to end it at the end of December. Keep celebrating through the New Year; let’s keep the warmth in the air.
Sevag Tateosian is host and producer of The Central Valley Ledger airing on 90.7 FM KFSR Fresno and the Community Media Access Collaborative Fresno/Clovis Comcast 93 and At&t 99. Connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org