Have you ever visited Gaylord’s Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville?
It’s pretty amazing any time of year with its nine acres of lush indoor gardens and cascading waterfalls. But dressed for the holidays with millions of twinkling lights, beautiful Christmas trees, nativity scenes, and poinsettias in every color, it becomes a wonderland this time of year.
Because my husband has served on our local Franklin Farmers Co-op Board of Directors for years, we’ve enjoyed many trips to the state annual meeting at the Opryland Hotel.
So it’s become a traditional kick off of sorts to the Christmas season for our family. Our experiences there have formed memories and helped teach me a couple of lessons.
The first lesson is the importance of experiencing beauty with childlike wonder and delight, no matter your age.
As I reflect on the trips when our kids were little until now, I can’t help but smile. In many ways, it’s certainly easier to travel with them now that they are grown.
They can pack for themselves. They can help load and unload. They know how to stay safe in crowds. They tolerate posing for family Christmas photos. They know how to behave … most of the time.
But those sure were magical times when they were young.
We struggled to keep up with them journeying through mazes of garden pathways dotted with koi-filled ponds, bridges, waterfalls and many Christmas displays.
In typical firstborn fashion, our daughter usually stayed close, but when the boys got legs of their own, they were off! Their excitement couldn’t be contained, and, although exhausting to supervise, I loved experiencing it with them.
I often wondered what this grand place must have looked like from their toddler stature and perspective.
And I realized that witnessing children discover beauty (anywhere) with such a sense of wonder and amazement is a true blessing.
I savor those memories and watch for glimpses still today. I know I never want them — or me — to outgrow this “through-the-eyes-of-a-child” sense of awe which awakens in me at this time of year.
But I also remember how confusing navigating the huge Opryland complex was the first time I visited. There was so much to take in that I was soon overstimulated and stressed.
And the holiday weekends predictably draw throngs of people, adding to the intimidating feeling a newcomer may experience, with or without small children in tow.
That first trip, I wondered if my directionally challenged self would ever be able to find my way around. But by the end of the adventure, I realized that there was actually very good instructional signage. I had just overlooked it as I tried to process it all on my own.
So lesson two is that, no matter how much there is to see, discover, enjoy or distract, we are wise to watch for the signs.
Now when I go there, I can’t help but notice other people feeling the same way I felt that first trip. That deer in the headlights look is easy to spot.
So I try to help them, pointing out the many signs that are discreetly yet consistently placed.
That first trip taught me that the signs are there; we only need to seek them … and then we can point them out to others.
Isn’t life a lot like that?
It’s easy to allow distractions to pull us this way and that and even overwhelm us as we try to find our way.
When we don’t follow the signs (or stop and ask for directions), we’re likely to end up frustrated and tired (with sore feet even) from aimless wandering.
Yes, experience has taught me that following the signs sure helps me enjoy the journey. And it’s a wonderful feeling to then help others better enjoy theirs too.
“Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” - Psalm 25:4-5
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” - Psalm 119:105
Gina Moore, a news-editorial journalism major, has operated Marketplace Consignment Sale for 25 years and has worked part-time at Treasures. She also enjoys country cooking, reading and writing about motherhood, life on the farm and how God’s love and lessons surround residents.