Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Memories

See the little wreath on the old shed?

"To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world."

Calvin Coolidge

Presidential message December 25, 1927

I dreamed about this and woke up thinking about it this morning, so it's like I am driven to write this post!

The majority of my working life was spent in local television whereupon a major duty that befell to me was directing the city's Christmas parade. It was this one task that at first overwhelmed until the process was recreated into something more like a science. Over the course of my 16 year directorship we became a well-oiled machine. One team consisted of volunteers from all walks of life - police department, fire and ambulance services, veterinarians, ham radio operators, retirees, and school systems among others. The television crew was headed by one amazing guy named Tim and consisted of coworkers in television - the production crew, engineering, news team, promotions, managers and anyone who I could snag in the hallways and beg. I loved those people, the volunteers and the crew!

Arriving pre-dawn at the staging site I would check in with production to say my "howdies" and drop off some hot biscuits. They would be cheerfully setting up cameras and microphones to record the event for playback, wreaths and greenery bedecking the production stand, Santa hats on their heads, holiday music playing, songs in their hearts. (...maybe a few early morning grumbles!)

Soon afterward volunteers came to the hospitality breakfast, Santa hats and Christmas sweatshirts on, bells on strings around their necks, candy cane earrings and Rudolph pins on their jackets, bright red clipboards and jingle bells on their shoe laces, smiles on their faces.

Before long the floats and bands and horses and marching units began arriving to seek out their position numbers marked along the staging area curbing. The constantly changing colors, laughter, music, decorations and themes were so festive and joyful! Children laughing with rosy cheeks in the chill; adults exhibiting all manner of courtesies and kindnesses. The Christmas Spirit was palpable and true. This was the real deal.

The parade would take all day from setting up and staging, meandering slowly through town over a 2 mile course, then dismantling floats and units, cooling down and loading up horses, observers and participants leaving for home. There was so much traffic, literally a sea of humanity, hustling and bustling, yet everyone was polite and courteous. (...for the most part!)

As the parade ended our volunteer and crew hospitality suite in the nearby hotel would begin where we would all sit and share stories of the day's event, sipping various libations and scarfing down sustenance. Yes, it was lots of work and everyone was exhausted but happy. Very happy. Naturally happy that the event was completed and successful, but even more than that. All that happiness and joy, merriment and song, festive feelings and warm, genuine caring all in one place was like an effusion of glee into your soul. One could not have been there and not felt the true meaning of Christmas because our hearts were bathed in its spirit.

It was a time in my life that I'll never, ever forget and for which I'll always be thankful. I just didn't know it at the time.


Eve said...

These are very nice words Debi. I feel like I was there in all the hustle, bustle and Christmas spirit! It's great learning more about you this way.

The Garden Ms. S said...

I love the wreath on such a humble building.

Wow, what fun you must have had putting together such an event! Memories forever. :)

kendalee said...

What beautiful, heartfelt memories!

Kerri said...

Those are wise words by Calvin Coolidge.
I loved reading your story, and can imagine the stress of such a huge undertaking. I'm glad you can now look back and cherish the memories of people working together to create such a happy, festive event.
I agree that Christmas should be kept simple so as to dwell on its true meaning.
I kissed the cats on the head for you :)

Gaelyn said...

What a beautiful and fullfilling holiday experience. It is uplifting to feel the joy of comraderie.


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