Monday, December 10, 2012

Good Morning Jacob...

Letter to My Son
9 December, Sunday

Good Morning Jacob…

The dog Jake and I got a late start on our walk this morning.  It was sunny and already almost warm by the time we came across a large flatbed truck trailer parked in a field near the brick Methodist church that faces Main Street.  A gathering of kids and their parents were busy placing bales of hay on the trailer, using a step ladder at its tail end to climb aboard.  The hay bales were centered and lined up as seats for nearly the length of the trailer.  A Christmas tree, naked of ornaments, was placed to end the bales.  On each of the trailer’s sides hung a large yellow sign, showing the diamond symbol of Cub Scouts above words proclaiming it to be Pack 87, Franklin Heights Baptist Church.  Jake and I had come across one of many Kannapolis floats being readied to wheel down Main Street that evening for the annual Christmas parade. 

It was very cold at last year’s parade and it took close to two hours for half of the community to pass in review for the benefit of the community’s other half, lined along the roadway, sitting in lawn chairs, bundled in bulky coats and wrapped in blankets, sipping hot beverages of coffee and cocoa.  Numerous church groups sang carols on the decks of trailers as they passed, being pulled by trucks of various description and by farm tractors, cleaned up from the muck of field work.  The town’s fire trucks were part of the parade as were patrol cars of the Kannapolis police and the sheriff’s of Cabarrus County; their sirens wailing and their colored beams of lights spinning across faces in the crowd.  Interspersed throughout the parade were large formations of kids from the area’s dance studios moving to the music provided by loudspeakers attached to the roofs of tag-along cars.  The kids were all brightly costumed and probably quite cold as they trooped gamely by, the youngest of them mostly walking along, too bewildered for dancing as they gazed into all the strange faces starring back at them all along the way.  The two rival high schools provided the marching bands – the Wonders of Kannapolis’s A. L. Brown High School and the competing Spiders of nearby Concord.  It seemed to me that Concord’s band was the more energized and crisp of the two during last year’s Christmas parade.  It’s possible they were making a statement after having lost The Bell to the Wonders in the final football game of the season.  The finale of each regular season is the game between these two longtime historic rivals to determine which school has possession of a large bell, attached to a wheeled cart.  The winning school paints the bell with its school colors and displays it as a trophy over the next year.  This year The Bell reverted back to the Spiders of Concord in a hard-fought upset over the favored Kannapolis team.  The Bell is also a part of the parade, at least when Kannapolis holds it.

Of course, Santa is the celebrated finale, drawing the parade to a close.  The sound of cars idling becomes a chorus as parents tuck chilled children inside.  Headlamps stream to the street and cops with flashlights and whistles do their best to disentangle the crowd of vehicles all trying to leave the area at once.  This year’s parade participants and followers benefited from temperatures that dropped only into the fifties.  Still, the Kannapolis turnout was thinned a bit by adversity.  The local hospital is filled with people struck with the flu.  Many of the nurses are also out with this year’s flu despite having been inoculated with their mandatory flu shot.  It’s already a bad flu season but better to get it now and out of the way instead of being in bed Christmas day, too sick to open presents under the tree.  Can you imagine a Christmas morning, with gifts waiting, and everyone parked beneath the blankets of their bed, unwilling to tear free the wrapping paper from presents, unable to ride new bikes up and down the street?  This would be the season of a truly Grinch flu.  Where’s the Gingerbread cookies?  Where’s the cinnamon eggnog?  No, we mustn't think of such a catastrophe.  It’s just wrong to even bring it up.  I’m so sorry.  Hand me another log for the fire.  Happy holidays one and all.


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