Well, it's that time of year again. One that's supposed to bring me much joy but also much sadness. As I've written in other articles, Christmas has not been the same since my mom passed away. We do not have a large family, so her absence just gets amplified. I tend to pull away from my family during the holidays and stick to my truck, my comfort zone. I know it's a selfish move on my part but its how I feel I can deal with the situation.
Faith Hill sang this in the Grinch movie, and every time I hear it, it brings tears to the surface.
"Where are you Christmas
Do you remember
The one you used to know
I'm not the same one
See what the time's done
Is that why you have let me go, oh"
I do find some spirit, however, in gift-giving. Seeing someone smile and receive a gift that I selected for them brings me happiness. Much thought goes into giving gifts and cards. Some people think Christmas cards are silly, but if I give one, you can bet I stood in that card aisle until I could find one that was perfect for the recipient.
The other place I gather the Christmas spirit is taking part in the Portage la Prairie Rotary Club Santa Claus Parade. This year, I told myself that I didn't want to volunteer to participate if it meant I would lose too many work days. Sometimes I get in that greedy mind space where I think the world may end if I take a few days off of work. It's hard to get out of that worry and just think that maybe a few days off will do ya good! Of course, though, the preparation for getting the truck ready takes up all the time off I would get before the parade anyway. This year, it just so happened that I got home on the Wednesday night before the Friday night parade. I participated last year and still had all of the decorations put aside, but I feel how my truck is displayed reflects me, and I felt like I wanted just a bit more pizzazz.
Let me start by saying that TikTok can be wonderful or send you quickly spiralling down a rabbit hole. I found a gingerbread cookie girl inflatable decoration at Walmart and decided that a Candyland theme for the parade might be fun. I scrolled through TikTok because I was sure I had seen a couple of clips on how to make life-sized lollipops, macaroons and other candies. I scrolled through and saved all my favourites. I made a shopping list which consisted mainly of pool noodles, hot glue and tape. Thursday afternoon, I had all the supplies I needed laid out in the office at work. I recruited the help of my coworker, Mandy, and we set off on this mission. Things turned out better than I could have imagined. Now, the hard part was attaching everything securely to the truck.
Friday morning, I was up bright and early to wash my truck, wipe it down to make it extra shiny, and then devise a plan on how I wanted everything to look. I must say, packing tape and zip ties are my new best friends! Again, I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. It's amazing what you can craft with pool noodles and paper plates, and we did all of this in 24 hours.
Friday evening, I set off for the parade. The weather that night was fantastic! I believe they had a record number of spectators. Many of my coworkers walked alongside my truck, handing out candy. I had my windows rolled down as I idled down the parade route. I wanted to wish Merry Christmas to those in attendance and hear their feedback and giggles when I tooted the horn. The smiles on everyone's faces made my heart feel full! As I said, the Christmas spirit is hard to find for me, but I was extremely uplifted in that moment. I knew when the parade was over that, I would be back to feeling a little down, but that joy I felt was more than I could have asked for. One thing that made me giggle was that I could hear children raving about the candies made from paper plates and how cool they were. I thought to myself, "We slaved away taping, gluing and wrapping pool noodles to broom handles, and the cheap and easiest decorations were actually the favourite!"
Lesson learned, folks - you don't always have to spend a ton of time and money on something to bring happiness to others. It's all in the little things!