Sunday, 15 December
|Ho! Ho! Ho!|
Saturday night was the annual Kannapolis Christmas Parade where half the town shows up to watch the other half parade by as caroling church groups, the high school band, children dancing, the local dentist handing out toothbrushes and Freddie Krueger making an appearance in support of the battle against cystic fibrosis. The main street through the heart of the old mill town is lined with families bundled up fat in layered clothes to ward off the chill of mid-December. The older folks bring folding chairs from home to sit in while nestled beneath that great quilt blanket they got years ago from Aunt Betty. Her hearing has gotten so bad, you know. She’s practically stone deaf. The funny thing is, and this is so true, she picks up the phone when you ring her but, then, she talks as though she’s guessing at what it is you just said. It’s got to be lonely for her still living on that farm way north of here out on highway 601. It’s good to ring her now and then but the conversation that follows just doesn't make much sense, bless her heart.
A few of the farmers in the area show up on horseback for the parade. Their wife might even be riding next to them. It’s possible someone shows up in fancy get up but, more than likely, they’re wearing Levis and a jacket with a fleece-lined collar. In any case, they become our very own Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, waving and greeting by name the occasional familiar face they see in the crowd. Those faces get fewer by the year. This is a growing town, you know. It’s not like we’re a crossroads with a feed store and a Winn Dixie for a grocer. We've got our own mall now. It has a food court, too, just like the big malls you see in Charlotte. We’re even starting to see a bit of our own traffic congestion at Christmas time. People backed up trying to do their mall shopping. You got to know they’re mostly a bunch of Yankees that moved here from up north. I hope they know having a North Carolina driver’s license doesn't make them a genuine Tar Heel. Don’t get me wrong. They’re good people, for the most part. It’s just that they are on probation.
I like seeing the big trucks all decked out in Christmas lights. They pull those flatbed trailers behind them that carry some costumed community group in a manger scene or singing while sitting on bales of hay or something. Now days more and more of them are using amplified guitars and other such nonsense. Hey, does anyone there realize it’s Christmas? Whatever happened to Silent Night? I like upbeat music as much as the next guy but that’s what the marching band is for, right?
Here’s something I know you’re really going to like. The local Fire Department’s fire truck is slowly cruising by with festive lights on it. The fireman driving it has his whole family in the cab with him and the truck’s public address speaker is blasting out some three year old crying out “Merry Christmas!” You think that kid feels like this is a big deal or what? You better believe it. Of course, next year he’s going to want to do it all over again but then he’ll discover that being four is now too old for the job. The magic that goes with being three is highly under-appreciated.
Santa Claus is always the finale. He looked really good this year in his sleigh and eight miniature reindeer frozen in the process of taking flight. I liked the fact that he wasn’t wearing horned-rimmed glasses. This guy looked like the real deal and not some book-keeper phoning in the part. He was truly merry. He waved just like you would expect he would but he also had a microphone in his hand and he sounded truly concerned that you were staying warm enough. I was a little worried about him. I bet that Santa outfit isn't all that warm. It’s definitely not North Pole material. If you’re doing Santa in one of these cold night parades you've got to be wearing the long johns. It’s not good for kids to see a shivering, miserable Santa Claus. It’s just wrong having people feel sorry for poor Santa. He’s the last thing we see. He puts the exclamation mark on our parade night memory. He warms our insides and lights up our life with a heart-felt and jolly “Merry Christmas!”