The promise of fabulous lights, a hayride, and a quaint Texas “village” are what drew my sister and I to visit Santa’s Wonderland in College Station this past weekend. Not sure if Justus was just as drawn to the festivities, or if he just acquiesced to accompanying us, but the three of us nonetheless trotted off on this adventure!
Everything was just too cute. There was a wine tasting room that I thought, “Hannah and I would have so much fun here!” Of course, I wanted to buy just about every Christmas decoration the place contained. At Katherine’s insistence, we waited for an hour, while our toes were about to freeze off, to watch the Aggie Wranglers perform. But the awesomeness (made-up word, I know) of the evening came during the hayride.
Twenty five people loaded into a trailer packed with hay. Along the trail, Santa’s Wonderland had every Christmas scene imaginable depicted through gorgeous lights. Elves, country families, snowmen, Rudolph, Santa. Everything you could imagine. Sweet Christmas music accompanied us the entire way. After a little while, I thought, “I bet they don’t have a nativity scene here. Probably too commercial for that.” Later, I found out that Justus had been thinking the same thing.
And then the truck pulling us slowed down. The second to last scene was a nativity scene, complete with candles burning in windows at the top of the stable to depict the inn. A moving Vince Gill Christmas song began to play. Cameras came out and pictures snapped. I thought to myself, “Way to go, Santa’s Wonderland.”
And then we came to the last scene. This time, the truck stopped. This last scene was the three crosses on Mount Calvary, with the middle cross adorned in purple. Next to the crosses stood Jesus’s tomb with the stone rolled away. Everyone fell silent. Vince Gill’s song of adoration was the only sound. Twenty-five strangers shared a moment of being reminded why some of us celebrate Christmas. We celebrate a birth because it leads to the cross. And the cross to life.
I was so encouraged to see that in its commercial venture, the people behind Santa’s Wonderland didn’t shy away from sharing with its customers their reason for celebrating this particular season. In a culture where commercial activities are pressured – in the mask of potential profits – to remove all semblance of religion, Santa’s Wonderland didn’t succumb. Santa’s Wonderland chose to share the Gospel with those who choose to visit. Merry Christmas.