On a somewhat wild hair, we went to a small town in Kentucky to see their Christmas parade. The candy flew by the handfuls and the children thoroughly enjoyed themselves despite the cold and windy conditions. Hats, gloves, and multiple layers of clothing were certainly a requirement – many families were even wrapped in blankets as this night-time parade wound it’s way through this small town’s streets.
Police sirens marked the beginning of the parade. There’s just something about the pride and excitement of your town’s police and fire departments leading the parade with full lights and sirens going that just announces to the world “Here comes the parade, everyone get excited!”. Too many towns have banned the use of the sirens in parades, declaring them as noise that is a nuisance – bah Humbug – let ‘er rip – and mind your own business you fuddy duddies. You won’t think they’re such a nuisance when you need them – now will you? (Sorry I digress, this is something of a trigger issue for me. I think a town parade is the perfect place to honor the dedication and love these brave police and firemen give to their community all year. How fun for them to blow the horns and sirens and have people cheer them – how dare anyone interfere with such a grand tradition.)
A pair of teenage boys worked the crowd selling homemade goodies. More homemade goodies were available at the community square and the proceeds benefited project graduation (a group of moms do this every year without the PTA – good for them!), a service project by a local college group for children with a particular illness (sorry don’t remember) – a parent of one of the children was their best salesmen even before he quietly admitted that one of the pictures in the booth was of his own son, and the fire department also had a booth.
What really touched us as outsiders was the gift of love that passed through the crowd while we waited for the parade to start. Two people went along the sidewalk with white plastic garbage bags. In what seemed to be a random fashion, they approached the occasional family and allowed the children to pick out their choice from the bags. At first, we were a little put out that they didn’t even stop to talk to us until we saw what they were doing. Any child who did not have on a pair of gloves or mittens was given their choice from a rainbow of colored mittens! How special was that??!!!
It is at Christmas perhaps more than any other time of year that we should all think about those little gifts of our time and presence that can help each other. Whether it’s help to pay medical bills, honoring our local heros, or simply keeping warm – it’s these small town gifts of love that truly exemplify the Christmas spirit.