December 8, 2007

But Baby It's Cold Outside

Last night was a magical (and very cold) night in Santa Barbara–my favorite one of the year. The 55th annual Santa Barbara Holiday Parade marched down State Street to the accompaniment of 4 high school bands, too many elementary bands to count and giant boom boxes blasting holiday music for baton twirlers, gymnasts and a hip-hop dance troupe dressed up as sexy santas. How great is that?

The Holiday Parade is the one time of the year when Santa Barbara seems like a small town–an easier blending of the haves and the have-nots. The parade is wonderful and a little hokey and almost everyone watching discovers they know someone who is marching in it. I first spotted beautiful Mallory, dressed in a hoop skirt, shepherding a herd of young girls singing Christmas carols and later a small clump of Brownies from my school, huddled together for safety and warmth, walked by my spot next to the Granada Theater. I loved seeing former Brandon School students marching in bands and dancing as pom-pon girls. Several of last year's sixth graders have transformed themselves into very grown-up and talented dancers. I even saw a mother I had just spoken to a few hours earlier at school, riding on top of a very big fire engine. For me, that would definitely be one of the best parts of being a firefighter.

Of course what makes this parade truly special is the magic of Christmas. A night of sparkling lights wrapped around trees, hats and musical instruments, and countless renditions of "Jingle Bell Rock" helped me get into the holiday spirit. Now, I am ready to decorate the tree, hang up some outdoor lights and pull out all the Christmas cds. I'll even load a few on my laptop so I can soak up more "spirit" as I work on Emelia.

My favorite vignette from last night came from my fellow parade watchers. The kindergarten son of a friend of Paul's was sitting curbside in his kid-size folding chair. All of a sudden he jumped up and hid behind the large nandina bush in front of me. He crouched close to the ground, but reached up to part the leaves and peer out at the parade. Santa was coming down the street and Grant was none too sure about him. He was definitely Santa-phobic and yet he found Santa irresistible as well. Whenever Santa waved to our side of the street, Grant ducked but when he turned away, Grant's head would rise up and steal a peek. Must be hard to be conflicted about Santa. Hard to "be good" to please someone you're afraid of.

When we got home from the parade we were freezing (at least by Santa Barbara standards.) I dug a flannel nightshirt out of my drawer and happily snuggled under my almost-always-too-warm comforter. Not last night. Soon Santa Barbara will be back to it's usual mild temperatures and I'll pack up our gloves, scarves, hats and Christmas decorations for another year, but right now I'm loving my extra warm bed as visions of sugar plums dance in my head!

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