I have been soaking up small town Christmas charm to the best of my ability.
Our town has not had its own Christmas parade in over twenty years--it shared one with the neighboring town which I witnessed just once. It was the worst excuse for a parade that I have ever seen, even with my own daughter dressed as a reindeer (she was not happy). It was nothing more than a string of cars and trucks with the names of local businesses plastered on them. It might as well have been called the Ad Section parade.
But last night, my town put on its own Christmas parade extravaganza. It began with the mayor standing in the middle of the square. He counted down from ten, and at zero, lights were turned on for the giant tree and these rather tacky garland ropes that create a kind of holiday roof over the main street. They are tacky, but I love them. Then there was the parade in which people and businesses actually put effort into creating floats--the old-fashioned floats that I knew as a kid with giant colorful lit-up displays pulled by trucks. The VWF carried flags, a soldier from the local armory lead a riderless horse, and high-school kids sang carols from a giant set of stairs on the back of a flat bed. It was lovely and heartwarming and small town, and I watched the whole thing with my good friend C.
One of the final entries was the high school marching band, in which daughter #2 plays the trumpet. They did their bit and then went back to the square, lining up in front of Santa's little red house. The Lion's Club gave away hot dogs, there were Christmas cookies given away under a big green tent, and there was hot chocolate. The mayor sat on the steps of Santa's house and read Twas the Night Before Christmas to little kids holding balloons. A choir sang, the band played, it was beautiful. Sigh.
This afternoon, daughter #2 and I went to Zoar Village, a historic site not far from here that has a little Christmas festival every year. There were crafters with booths and freshly popped kettle corn and pumpkin rolls. We bought jewelry from a woman who creates lovely things with beads and buttons. We bought bread baked in wood-fired kilns from the 1800s. There was a little brass band consisting of a tuba, two trumpets, and a trombone playing carols. We could only spend an hour in Zoar because we had to run to a tennis lesson, but it was lovely just the same.