After a delay Friday night due to weather, the annual Christmas parade got under way Monday, December 10th, to much-anticipated fanfare. As vendors set up on Court Square for the Christmas on the Square celebration, police began blocking off the streets in preparation for the parade to make its way through. It seemed a cold and slow start to the night.
However, despite the chill and remaining potential for rain, a crowd showed up to enjoy the event. Children played in and around the streets and sidewalks of Court Square as local law enforcement stood watch, and joined in the fun.
As I watched an officer laughing and joking with a child who ran across blocked-off Walnut Street while clutching a hot dog he bought from the 4-H group, a wave of nostalgia washed over me as a realization set in. For many of us, these events are just motions we go through year after year. It’s just “what you do.” But, why? This was in fact a question I had been asked by a 13 year-old recently. Why do we torture ourselves through the cold? Why do we give time, energy, and copious effort just to put on an event that lasts a few hours?
To be sure, community events such as this are important. They invest in us a sense of pride in our town; of belonging to our community – a family togetherness. They hopefully also drive us to participate and do our part to make not only the event the best it can be, but our community better in turn. More than this, they give us memories. I recall Christmas parades and town gatherings from my childhood, not so much in detail but from a general misty nostalgia that brings back that happy warmth of the “good old days.”
Those days seem a foggy memory to many. But, we need to remember that for some, like the little boy who laughed as the officer jokingly tried to take his hot dog, these are the good old days. These are the times he will remember and look back on fondly as he watches his own children run and play around town square in excited anticipation of the marching band and floats coming up the hill to toss candy to him amidst a grand display of colorful lights and Christmas joy.
Those memories are precious to us all. The task is to us to be certain they exist and continue for the next generations. They solidify our community, and they make us feel … good. That’s why we do it.
These are the days we create – days that will last a lifetime. Merry Christmas.