Everybody loves a parade! The only parade I ever recall participating in was an Easter Parade in Hayward, California when I was a child around five years old. My cousin and I wore Easter hats that our mom's made for us from paper plates. I don't really remember much else about that day or the parade. I am sure I have been to other parades in my childhood, but I don't really remember any details.
Recently my son and I were in our second parade. My son is a Boy Scout and with that activity comes the opportunity for many action packed adventures. Last year was our first experience participating in a parade and we had a blast. This year I realized why I love it so much. I enjoy being around people and you have an opportunity to share in a moment, quick as it is, with total strangers. For a brief moment you can share pure joy with someone. It is exhilarating as you ride through the parade route, you have this freedom to wave, smile and shout out MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone AND the wonderful thing is, they are waving, smiling and shouting back at you. Its a moment in time where two strangers can look each other in the eye without the worries of life and smile at one another. It's a moment of peace between two people. I also love when I recognize people in the crowd and you call their name or they call out yours. It's like two long lost friends who are so glad to see each other-even if that person is someone you see regularly. It doesn't seem to matter whether your skin color is black, white, brown, or tan. It doesn't matter if you are old or young. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor. It doesn't even matter if you speak the same language. A parade brings everyone out and it seems that you are able to put aside the stress of your life for a moment and make eye contact and smile at someone whether you know them or not.
This past experience has really challenged me to make a point to look strangers (and even more so, the people I do know) in the eye as we pass by one another whether its in the grocery store, the doctors office, out on a walk, or in the work place, and smile and say hello in a more meaningful way. The challenge is to take a moment to connect with someone you don't know or even connect deeper with those you do know.
*the photo is of my cousin Stacey and I wearing our homemade Easter bonnets for the parade