The End of the Parade

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Well dear readers, you will undoubtedly be happy to hear that I have, at last, reached the end of the Mainx24 Parade!

The end of the parade included car art.  This is something I saw a lot of back home over the past few years.  People adhere a wide variety of three dimensional things to their car.  Usually, they do this to older, not very expensive cars and the first trends I saw involved adhering things like troll dolls.

An example of the more three dimensional variety of car art

An example of the more three dimensional variety of car art

I admit I felt some judgment when I saw these cars.  I couldn’t quite understand why someone would do that to their car or what value they got out of it.  Then, one of my friends told me she’d met a guy who drove one of these cars down our street on a regular basis.  She asked him why he decorated his car.  He said, “I just love making people smile.”

This driver definitely looks like she's all about making people smile

This driver definitely looks like she’s all about making people smile

I still have a hard time appreciating car art, but I now smile when I see one of these cars none-the-less.  It’s not the car that makes me smile.  It’s the thought that maybe the person driving it went to a lot of effort to bring a little joy into the world.  That’s definitely smile-worthy.

One of the art cars definitely created a lot of smiles–they had a supply of candy that caused children to line up outside the windows to receive a handful.  This car seems less three dimensional in style and more about happy thoughts in general.  I like happy thoughts.

Whether the kids appreciated the happy-thoughts car or not, they certainly enjoyed the candy

Whether the kids appreciated the happy-thoughts car or not, they certainly enjoyed the candy

If an artistic car doesn’t conjure happy thoughts, perhaps a horse-drawn carriage will?

Look closely for the Dalmatian on the driver's seat

Look closely for the Dalmatian on the driver’s seat

This is one of at least two carriages that are available for a spin around downtown on weekends year-round and all week during the summer.  Notice the Dalmatian riding along on the driver’s seat.  Both carriages always have a Dalmatian who accompanies the driver.  One of these days, I’m going to ask how that tradition got started.

With the end of the parade came the big man himself (or his quintuplet, given that we saw him many times before)–Santa Claus.

A more practical santa uses sled dogs instead of reindeer

A more practical santa uses sled dogs instead of reindeer

Instead of driving a sleigh with reindeer, he used sled dogs.  That seems more practical to me–reindeer have all those horns and hoofs to worry about.  Plus, what do they eat?  According to wiki answers, in the winter they eat lichens.  I haven’t seen any bags of lichens even at the most premium of pet stores.

As I walked back to my car, I stopped to shoot two more images.  First, a man playing the piano out on the street.  Perhaps the fact that it was December was what made this remarkable to me.

I'm guessing this guy doesn't go busking around town

I’m guessing this guy doesn’t go busking around town

The second was a tree who had bonded with a building in a way that probably isn’t healthy for either.  Not sure which will win the battle for space in the end–right now, it looks like the tree is winning.  I silently cheered it on.

This tree and building have become so intertwined, it's not clear they can be separated

This tree and building have become so intertwined, it’s not clear they can be separated

Playing Santa

‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la la.

Demonstrate our great folly, fa la la la la la la la la.

Ah, Christmas.  Where did the magic go?  The days when I used to agonize over the perfect gift, going store to store to store–returning home frustrated and desperately in need of a nap.  I would put up decorations, wrap every gift with homemade bows.  And I always, always sent Christmas cards.

Then, the circle of friends with whom I exchanged Christmas gifts started to shrink.  As we grew older, there were fewer things we wouldn’t just buy for ourselves if we wanted them.  Besides the occasional bottle of wine in a reusable, decorative bag, we were down to just exchanging gifts with family.

Then, my family had what I like to think of as the “epiphany Christmas.”  We realized that we didn’t know what to get each other and it was silly, as adults to be making lists.  We called a truce on gift buying and agreed just to get the kids gifts.  This simplified shopping and allowed us to focus on the boys, who really made Christmas fun.

But then, my nephews seemed to lose their enthusiasm.  They used to try to stay awake all night so they could catch Santa; now they sleep later and later on Christmas morning.  They used to carefully open each toy, set it aside and play with the box for so long that we’d have to remind them to open the next gift if we wanted to finish in time for lunch.  Now, gift opening barely lasts a half an hour.  And their wish lists get shorter each year.  Until, finally, the youngest stop producing them all together, preferring to be “surprised.”

I have to agree that wish lists feel like cheating.  There’s something really special about a gift that says someone was paying attention to the things you’re interested in or, even better, found the perfect symbol of something special between the two of you.  I love giving gifts when I know I thought of something only I could have thought of and only the receiver can appreciate.  Even if it’s a silly, cheap gift, when it feels like the exact right gift, it really is magical.

The problem is it’s impossible to think of that perfect gift for everyone I know (and remember what it was).  In fact, if I don’t see someone regularly, the probability that I’ll have any clue as to what to give them is so small that it depresses me.  The thought that I know so little about what my father, step mother, brother, sister-in-law, nephews, friends, etc have and don’t have, need and don’t need, want and don’t want serves to remind me that I haven’t been paying enough attention.

Perhaps that will be my New Year’s Resolution–to know the people I love well enough to think of the perfect gift for each of them.