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Descanso Gardens

Los Angeles, California:  Dave and I enjoyed a fun and fast-paced visit with our family in Los Angeles. Driving to Los Angeles Thursday afternoon, we arrived in time for Lisa and Lenny to go out for an evening with friends... which left us in charge of the kids for the evening. The first item on the babysitting agenda was the book fair at Leo's school. This is the second year I have attended and am always so impressed with the caliber of books displayed. After choosing a few new books, we decided to take the kids to an early dinner at a nice Italian restaurant we all enjoy. Early enough (5p) we would be finished and home before we could possibly bother diners there to enjoy a quiet romantic dinner. Though now 6 and 3, and very familiar with the restaurant, it is still a good idea to hedge all bets.

We pulled into a completely empty parking lot at the restaurant. I was excited to think we were the first to arrive and would easily score a table and get in/get out quickly. Wrong, Parmesan Breath. The restaurant was closed for a private party all evening. Dang.

Leo suggested we go to sushi at Katsuya, which must be one of the most expensive sushi restaurants in Los Angeles. The kid has good taste, and both kids love sushi. Katsuya is on OpenTable, I was able to quickly secure a table via my phone app, so we continued to The Americana, an upscale outdoor mall in Glendale. While our little grandchildren plowed through several plates of yellowtail sashimi, avocado rolls, cucumber rolls, octopus (Lucy insisted it was NOT octopus - it was cheeeese), and eel, we all watched the holiday scenes around the mall. (Sorry, frozen people, it was a lovely evening and we dined outdoors on a patio facing the central square/fountain on the main shopping street.) There was a line to visit with Santa. Little Drummer Boys occasionally paraded by. We saw the ballerina and a toy soldier from The Nutcracker. A pretty red trolley ran up and down on the street next to us. At one point, it actually "snowed" and a few "flakes" (it is somehow made with soap, but they are not bubbles) landed on our table, delighting the kids.

The children were bathed, brushed, read-to, sang-to and asleep before their parents returned from their party.

Grandparents are the best babysitters.

Another big day on Friday - the last day of school for both children. Lucy's pre-school had their annual Holiday program. (Long-time Readers may recall photos from Leo's pre-school shows, and Lucy attends the same school.) Lucy's class performed (okay, performed is maybe an over-statement) "Winter Wonderland". Lucy was able to sing the entire song herownself while alone with us, but maybe a bit of stage fright shocks the tots when they walk onto the stage to meet a sea of faces staring back at them.

Little Lucy, second from right

Once again, a beautiful day. The holiday program is always held outdoors.

After the show, we grabbed Lucy and went to a celebratory lunch at Fred62. The Little Diva wanted a pancake and French fries.

Bubbe wanted the fabulous house-smoked short-rib pastrami sandwich.

The rest of the day was busy with errands and entertaining Lucy. The family gathered again late afternoon for latkes, prayers, menorah lighting and gifts. We gave each kid another book. Lisa and Lenny gave each of the kids a packet of those little plastic glow sticks.

Leo and Lucy was very excited to receive a packet of glow sticks, reminding us that one not spend a fortune to please little children. But these glow sticks were just the teaser for their "real" gift on the 4th Night of Hanukkah - we were all going to the art+light installation at Descanso Gardens - Enchanted: Forest of Light. Right now! Grab your jackets! Bring the glow sticks!

Twenty minutes later we were inside Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge, touring through the beautiful lighting displays. This is not a Christmas light show, actually nothing could be less holiday-ish than this art display. But it is just fascinating, enchanting and it was a little chilly, so is about as close as you are going to get to a Winter Wonderland in Los Angeles. There are 10 different areas to explore and enjoy. We toured them all and I photographed most. NOTE: It was very, very, very dark and very, very, very difficult for me to photograph. Excuse, but I think My Dear Readers will be able to get the gist of the beautiful light exhibit.

Flower Power - a sea of radiant tulips: hundreds of tulip lights, constantly changing color. Amazing.

Lucy and Leo - snacking along the route

Symphony of Oaks - the kids could step on lights under Live Oaks to make the trees "sing" with color and tinkling bells:

Lucy found a glowing "bird cage" and decided she needed to dance ballet.
Her Bubba and Brother decided to join her.

We also found the Luminous Lawn - a meandering pathway of lighted panels that change colors when stepped-on:

A light screen was installed on the garden amphitheater stage. It changed constantly, accompanied by wispy-magical music. Leo's glow stick became a light saber and he Kylo Ren had an epic battle with Dave. Lucy continued her pirouettes.

I could not photograph an area where we walked through a dense forest - seemingly filled with thousands of dancing lightning bugs. This was the most beautiful part of the garden (to me) and I am sad it was impossible to photograph (for this inexperienced gal). Several areas also had (artificial) fog - very eerie mood-making - wondering if this garden shouldn't also have a spooky Halloween light event?

Another magical display consisted of many colored "lanterns" that emitted dizzying shadows to the ground as they spun from the trees above:

Isn't that just something?

Between every third or four display was a wonderful catering Airstream trailer or kiosk. Hot chocolate. S'mores. Snacks. Wine and cocktails. Kept us warm and fueled in the chilly fog.

The last area we visited was the "Garden of Good Fortune" - completely covered in hundreds of bright red lanterns following a creek - in the Japanese garden area of Descanso Garden.

It was just a magical evening and I am so happy we were able to experience this light exhibit with the kids! What a great gift for the Festival of Lights! Thank you, Lisa and Lenny.

Until my next update, I remain, your festive correspondent.