You know what this world needs? More parades!
For years Lisa and I took our girls down to her father’s office on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh for the annual Christmas Parade. He would provide the essentials: doughnuts, hot chocolate, coffee, a parking space and a bathroom. Our kids would be PUMPED, ready to kick off the holiday season.
When the girls and I began participating in Ira David Wood’s A Christmas Carol play five years ago, our parade routine changed. We were no longer spectators, we were full on participants. We don our costumes and walk the two-mile route encouraging the onlookers to ignore Scrooge who is shouting through a bullhorn to the crowd:
“Go home! Christmas has been cancelled this year. We’re going to have two Halloweens instead!”
The adults laugh and often respond with “Humbug!” Some of the kids get fairly angry at the notion emphatically communicating with a man who is rolling down the street in a robe with a Christmas ghost at his side. “WE ARE NOT CANCELLING CHRISMAS MR. SCROOGE!”
Although this is my sixth year in the parade, I noticed something different this go round. Perhaps it is the political climate that made me more in tune.
What I saw were people, lots of different people, sitting together, laughing together, smiling together. A man twice my age with a different color of skin responded to my hat tip and “Merry Christmas” with a hat tip of his own. A girl in a wheelchair had a smile on her face that showed every tooth in her head. Kids from 2 to 14 held out their hands for a parade high-five. Groups of unrelated people came together to yell, “Merry Christmas Mr. Scrooge!” in unison. There were carefree smiles for miles.
My heart aches when I watch the news. I sometimes feel as if our problems are so deep seated that there is no way we can ever mend. But last Saturday, I had hope. I saw laughter, and joy, and happiness and unity, and it did my soul good.
My prayer for my family, my city, state and country is a perpetual parade. May we all recognize our blessing this week and bestow grace upon each other.