Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bright Smiles and Shining Eyes

Yesterday my town held its annual Christmas parade. The day began with snow and a morning visit from the Weather Channel's Jeff Morrow, who periodically reported from the town square about the weather. A perfect day for a Christmas season kick-off event.

Our historical society operates the historic 1899 county courthouse in the center of our town as a museum. We sponsored pictures with Santa in the upstairs courtroom while our new clock bell/chime system played Christmas music from the clock tower. Later in the day the society also sponsored the annual Christmas parade and lighting of the Christmas tree on the town square. In addition there was a live nativity on our heritage museum grounds a block away.

It was 36 degrees at parade time. I had the honor of pulling Santa's float. He was on a red sleigh surrounded by spruce boughs, stuffed animals, wrapped presents, and a number of "ride-on" toys. We were the final entry in the parade, so the children had collected quite a bag of Christmas candy by the time we arrived. However, nothing quite got their attention as well the "Jolly Old Soul."

It was such fun to see their faces brighten up when they saw Santa. They immediately began to call to him to get his attention. Being the great Santa that he was, he made sure that he made eye contact and spoke to them. I fell behind a bit because I simply could not rush Santa away from the kids. In fact I practically stopped a few times because there were so many kids gathered and calling out to Santa.

In spite of their typical know it all arrogance I even caught a number of teenagers whose faces betrayed their age when they saw Santa. They were almost as excited as the little kids, when Santa arrived before them. In fact there were many adults whose faces showed that they, too, had memories of their childhood awakened.

I have memories of sitting on Santa's lap and asking for Christmas presents at a store on the same town square almost 60 years ago. There were never pictures and my list was never long, because I knew our family's limitations. Yet my memories are precious, and I hope that those children who lined the streets yesterday were forming their pleasant memories of a holiday season.