“i love a parade.” can you say that without singing it? thanks lawrence welk. every time I’m either at, or watching a parade on tv (which is weird and I couldn’t tell you the last time I did it), i sing that little tune to myself. something more like “I looooove a pa-rade”. i typically do it in my head, unless i’m alone. the only true way to sing it is really loud.

well, it was homecoming weekend at the local high school and our friends (or are they still neighbors? when do you cross over from neighbors to friend-land? this is a tough one. I think a neighbor is more of a casual-conversation-ask-to-borrow-ladder-pour-water-on-when-burning-kind of thing. let’s say we are in the mini-van and pulling out of the driveway onto friendship road.) invited us to watch the parade with them. perfect. because, i “loooooove a parade” (it’s hard not to do, even when writing, i hope you’re singing it all day. wait for a quiet moment in the office, go to the copy machine, and let er’ rip “i looooove a parade”. sorry it’s getting fun to write now.) the girls were excited to see their friends (see, kids are allowed to know one another for 5 minutes and be friends, they can even hug and hold hands without anyone thinking it’s weird. i guess they don’t have the hang-ups we do, yet. maybe i should try that with our new “friends” – on our way to the park, just casually go for a hand grasp. what could you say? it would break the ice faster than the first time you are asked to help them move. speaking of helping people move. i had a “friend” who i had only known, at that point, for three weeks. he was moving and i asked if he wanted help. i will never forget how he said “um, yah, we aren’t really those types of friends yet.”) and for the candy that would be thrown their way as the floats and cars made their way past our piece of grass (i forgot the folding chairs). they weren’t looking forward to the floats, bands, or other odd people who walk in parades (you know, every parade i have been to seems to have that one participant that just doesn’t make sense. like someone went to sign up for the 4th of july parade and the following took place “yah um… i’d like a spot in the 4th of july parade.” “oh, and what do you represent?” “i’m running for office.” “oh, what office? perhaps we could get you around some of your friends and you could work together handing out fliers and such.” “ah i’m a democartian” “a what?” “you know a democartian.” the person working the parade doesn’t really want to go any further into it, takes his $50 bucks and hands him the parade route and guidelines. she puts him in between a democratic mayor and judge (cause judges should totally have political ties). parade day comes. and there is the “democartian” walking with a sign reading “if it wasn’t for the sock puppets and meatball monsters we might all be safe.”. he has a stack of pamphlets – not one of which is the same as the other. thankfully he isn’t handing out candy.)

naturally the kids were excited for the candy, why wouldn’t they be, but what we (the adults) were not ready for was “the candy”. now perhaps i have always been at the end of the parade route so this type of activity is normal for the start of the parade, but it was the most ridiculous candy assault i have ever witnessed, and unfortunately it took away from the parade. you couldn’t watch the parade. you had to: duck, make sure the kids didn’t get run over by cars, make sure the kids were indeed picking up candy, duck, and it actually became a chore to pick up candy. h. learned fast. she had her three suckers and came to the sideline, but the other two girls and their moms were busy. work, busy. we couldn’t just leave all that candy in the street. we had a duty to pick it up.

now, i can get over all of that (the upside being we don’t have to buy halloween candy) and we had fun. i can even get over seeing hundreds of “air heads” splattered in the streets as we made our way home (now, if it were “spree” we may have a different story), but what i thought about, and can’t get over, is the amount of candy that was deemed necessary for a homecoming parade. the reality (regardless of how we got here, how we are getting out, how much is fear, how much is real and the other baggage that comes along with it) is that we are not doing the best as a nation economically. of course 200 less bags of candy at a parade will not buy the 300 computers that the school needs, nor do i want to do away with candy at parades, but we are not learning the lessons that i would hope we would have given the very real set of circumstances that our nation finds itself in, nor are we acting like there is a very real problem. this is an opportunity to pare down our “necessities” to realize what is necessary. this would have been a perfect time to say “in lieu of the 5,000 bags of candy, that we typically throw out to parade watchers, we are going to give that money to our after school program.” not only would we be diverting funds into a more well suited place, but there would be some other darn fine (by darn fine i mean awesome) unintended consequences, like – we could actually see the faces on the float, recognize our neighbors daughter who is in the homecoming court, wave at our principals, and otherwise have the parade be an event that everyone is apart of and adds to.

we have created so much “stuff” around our traditions and celebrations. that “stuff” has become a barrier. that barrier is growing and continues to separate us from one another – as people out to see a parade together, neighbors celebrating a house-warming, and humans celebrating and living this life. why are we comfortable with the smoke screen? why is it easier to throw gifts at people and “stuff our faces” at community events than talk and observe? why is it easier to consume than just “be”. i hope that, as we are forced to have less at our parties, parades, and in our lives, that we can grow closer to one another, and as i have written a million times, fear one another less. obviously people are doing with less and sacrificing their wants to get by, but as a society we have not decided to shut down any of those outward signs of a wealthy nation, at least when it comes to parades.

tragedy can reshape our ideals in positive ways, unless we would rather stay in the haze with our tongues pressed against our canker sores.

you know those buying and throwing the candy want us distracted.

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