Christmas brings out the kid in all of us

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2006

Some pleasures never lose their childhood luster. One of those is a parade.

My mom is nearing her 82nd birthday (just about a month away), and she's had to give up a few things over the past year, such as driving. Mama tires out a lot more quickly than she used to.

Still, she couldn't resist the urge to join me Saturday as I covered not one, but two Christmas parades in Butler


&#8220Oh, I always did enjoy watching the parades back when you children were all here,” Mama said, her blue eyes lighting up, when we talked about our plans for Saturday.

So I had her slip on a pair of my gloves, wrapped her in one of my winter scarves, its blue complementing those same pretty eyes, and sat her down in my folding chair at the intersection of Hickory and Commerce that morning.

Mama chatted with other parade-goers, including a tiny tot in pink who brought a big smile to Mama's face when she came over for a visit.

The kids were anxious for things to get underway, but so were the adults. We were all peering down the street, anxious to hear drums beating a holiday tune and see lights flashing on police vehicles (when else do you want to see that?).

&#8220Are you OK, Mama? I can get you my coat out of the car,” I offered when I saw her shiver a little in her Santa sweatshirt and jacket.

&#8220Oh, I'm OK. Just ready for them to come on,” she said with a small smile and a sigh.

We were all ready.

And then they came - the ROTC color guard, the floats with kids in Santa hats, the twirlers, the beauty queens in their convertibles, the high school band playing a Christmas tune, even one church float with a lady singing live, accompanying herself on an electric piano.

My family's favorite home healthcare worker, Debbie, came by in a cute jester's outfit and our favorite lawyer, Pete Hamilton, marching with the Boy Scouts, offered smiles and candy to the crowd.

And there were the vintage tractors from Old Time Farm Day, the John Deeres and Fords and International Harvesters, rolling by as the drivers waved to the crowds.

&#8220There's Mr. Turner, Mama, the man who refurbished Daddy's John Deere,” I pointed out, as Harold Turner passed by on another one of his projects, a sharp-looking Ford.

Mama just smiled. She didn't look cold anymore.

Later, we sat in the Jeep and ate homemade pound cake and sipped hot chocolate from the Greater Greenville Service League booth in the park. &#8220I've just been sitting here, enjoying myself people watching,” Mama chirped happily as she nibbled on the cake.

That afternoon, we were in Georgiana, able to shed our scarves and gloves as we staked out another parade-watching spot.

Georgianians truly believe in handing out the candy at their parade: the police officers, national guardsmen, fire fighters, folks on floats and ATVs, they all had lots of goodies, and the kids on the sidelines were ready to fill up their empty shopping bags.

&#8220Honey, there's a sucker. And some mints. And something else over there,” Mama called out helpfully.

One float came by, tossing beads a la Mardi Gras. a shiny gold necklace landed by my mom's chair.

&#8220Here, Mom, you just said you needed some more beads.” (Her necklace had broken at Mickie D's at lunchtime.)

&#8220Thanks, honey, I think I will just go ahead and put them on. They are right pretty, aren't they,” Mama said with a grin as she slipped the strand around her neck.

On the way home, Mama sampled one of the Dum-Dum pops we had claimed during the parade as we listened to Christmas songs on the radio.

Some pleasures never completely fade.

Angie Long is Lifestyles reporter for The Greenville Advocate. She can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 132 or via email at