It’s been a big holiday for parades! On Thanksgiving morning, my girls and I snuggled up and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was the 90th anniversary of one of my clearest holiday memories from childhood. The same no matter where we moved.
Of course the parade, itself, was not the same as I remembered. Lots of singing and dancing. New huge balloons unheard of in my childhood. Bullwinkle nowhere in sight. But, still, the excitement of the crowds. Time with people I love. And Santa. All in that mythical, magical place called New York.
Then another parade. Ugg boots and winter jackets and fingers-free crocheted mitts for the intrepid photographer all necessary. The local parade in a teeming DC bedroom community trying hard to create a whole new wave of nostalgia.
My girls were marching in this parade! Brownie and Daisy Scouts along with legions of Girl and Boy Scouts. And dancers. And cheerleaders. And some old guys revving the engines on vintage Mustangs, many of them convertibles. A strong presence from the local police officers and firefighters.
And balloons! The big kind. Well, not so big as Macy’s, but pretty big all things considered. Plenty of babies for waving. And dogs, everywhere. In the parade. Among the crowds. One fascinated with my boots. His human kept apologizing until I explained, “Newfoundlands. Two of them.” She caught my eye and laughed and there, among thousands of strangers, I had a new friend.
Parts of the parade were harder for me. I can only speak for myself. I watched a lot. Strangers in the crowd, many of them likely government employees. The struggles on so many faces when a tenor soloist from a local choir sang the national anthem. All quiet and respectful. Some, uncertain. Many, perhaps for the first time, clearly considering learned responses which is, I think, a good thing. Setting aside rote reactions and actually taking a conscious stand in their own way. A peek, I hope, at the future.
And the kids, leading us as they so often do, notably more diverse than the throngs packed along the parade route. Waving, some a bit timidly, and tossing candy–or scooping it up from the street–most of them smiling. Lots of parents and a few grandparents herding them along in tiny communities, shivering in their costumes and uniforms.
Through it all, a local TV personality acting as MC. Notably enthusiastic. A bit of emotion in her voice as my girls and all their Girl Scout companions came marching along at the end, just ahead of Santa. Rattling off the troop numbers as we squinted for our particular girls among the herd, complete with Santa hats. Then the announcer:
“They really do believe that girls can save the world.” And a few more tears in this Girl Scout turned Grammy’s eyes.
Personally, I think it’s going to take all of us to move forward into a world that truly values all its people. Old and young. Male and female. All races. All faiths.
If we’re honest, we really haven’t been there before. At least not that I can see. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get there in the future! Perhaps sooner, if the little children lead us.