I went to our local Santa Claus parade this evening. It was pouring rain and we had trouble finding the float that the kids were supposed to be on. There were about 20 floats altogether, including the fire trucks from the nearest three volunteer fire departments (hopefully nothing burned or crashed during the parade!) Some of the floats were nothing more than decorated utility trailers pulled behind SUV’s. But they were done up beautifully, made into boats and sheds and houses and stories, wound with lights and improved with added sound systems. And I found myself standing at the side of the road, dripping wet, waving back at the drivers and the enthusiastic singers, and crying with happiness.
There is nothing cynical or artificial about this parade. There is no sneering nod to sophistication, nor are they trying to be quaint (as much of the culture is in this locale, being a major tourist destination.) This is creating a parade for the sheer joy of it all, for the sake of homemade cakes, hot chocolate and a big pine tree beside the fire department lit up for the season. This is the world I live in now, and it runs to this day on the strength of the volunteer fire department and the ladies’ guilds of various types.
I’m not from here, and I probably never will be. Not quite. But sometimes it is enough to bask in the reflected glow of the people who are.