Magical night at Butchart Gardens brings families together

Spending time outside with participants is always an impactful experience, but under the lights of The Magic of Christmas, our program at Butchart Gardens was extra special.

Earlier this month, we took a group of almost 50 people – including participants, family members, staff, volunteers, and other supports – to the world-famous Butchart Gardens to take in the annual Magic of Christmas light display. It was a clear, cold night, but we bundled up in warm layers, mittens, toques, and even a couple of strands of lights to keep warm.

It took us just under two hours to wander through the impressive light display. We started off by passing by a “pear” tree bearing a single partridge, and then two turtle doves in a cage. “What could these displays be about?” we wondered.

Then we stepped into a tree canopy that can only be described as magical. Lights, both on strands and projected, lit up the entire underside of the trees, making it feel like we’d stepped into a whole other world.

It was through this canopy that we found three hens sitting next to a model of the Eiffel Tower eating croissants and sipping café lattes. It was then that the pieces fell into place for us. We knew we would eventually pass four calling birds (in this case all using smartphones – tweeting perhaps?), five golden rings, and so on through the well-known Christmas Carol The Twelve Days of Christmas.

The displays and the lights made the experience a unique one; but it was the families that made the program so very special. As a program facilitator, I spend a lot of time interacting with our participants and getting to know them, but rarely do I get to spend a lot of time with the families of those individuals. The program at Butchart Gardens gave me a chance to see how these families interact and share the spirit of the holidays with each other, and let me tell you, those smiles spoke for themselves. As we passed through the grounds of the Gardens, laughter rang out at the six geese a ‘laying beside the ramp to the sunken garden, and guesses were shouted out as to who the nine ladies dancing might have been.

By the time we passed the 11 pipers piping, we were all ready for some extra warmth in the form of hot chocolates. We sipped and chatted about our favourite parts of the evening, sharing and giggling at the new memories we had made together.

As we drove out, bellies full of sweet hot chocolate, and hearts full of joy, we saw them above us – the 12 drummers drumming us back to reality, ready to bring The Magic of Christmas with us into this special time of year.

Special thanks go to the super-friendly staff at Butchart Gardens, who went above and beyond to make this program a success.

 – Story shared by Em McFarland, program facilitator

Top photo credit: Photo by Jack B on Unsplash