The Christmas Parade was last night, and I missed it! It's not always easy to get down there for these things, especially when I make so many other trips down for family events during the holidays. Hopefully we'll make it next year.
Novica is based on my hometown. It's not an exact replica, though one commonality is the annual Christmas Parade, traditionally held the first Saturday of December. And, because Sam loves her hometown as much I do, and the timing was right, the parade made its way into A Shadow in Doubt. Since I missed out on the festivities this year, I decided I'd share Sam's version of the '06 parade with you....
A Parade of Errors
Jim and John were already setting up along the parade route when Jay and I arrived. They had a great spot, on the judges’ side, about twenty feet down the route from their stand.
Heather was still home with the kids. They wouldn’t come until later in the afternoon, or else they would never make it until the parade.
Jay and I chit chatted about nothing, waved to people we knew, and watched the boys toss a football around. I almost felt like a normal person again.
“Sam, I’m so sorry about what happened at the club the other night,” Jane started apologizing as she walked up, before we saw her, Heather and the kids. “Was your drink really spiked?”
I gave her a hug, “You have nothing to be sorry for. But, yeah, it was. I thought I was being careful, but, I must have looked away.”
“Well, thank goodness Kristoff got you out of there,” Heather said. They’d been told I felt sick, and went back to Kristoff at the car, who called me a cab. That wasn’t exactly how it went.
“Speaking of, where’s Kristoff today, Jay?” Jane asked.
“Oh, he had to work.”
Heather, was bouncing her two year old on her hip, “What does he do again? I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet him at Thanksgiving.”
“He’s in security, high profile stuff.” Jayden whispered as if it were a closely guarded secret. “We really don’t discuss it much, it’s the ‘If I tell you I’ll have to kill you’ sort of thing.”
“Well, I’m sure you have no problem finding other ways to pass the time,” Jane giggled.
Jay sighed dreamily. “Nope, no problems. We enjoy exploring new ways to pass the time.”
“Gross,” I stuck my finger in my mouth. “TMI.”
“What about Bailey?” Jane asked. “Don’t tell me he’s working too.”
“I think he said he had some phone interviews, for crew on his project. But, he’ll be here later. I sent him a message with where to find us.” Secretly, I hoped that he wouldn’t show up. He wasn’t a local, and this was his first Christmas in town. I’d made a point of not talking it up, so he wouldn’t think he was missing out on anything.
Which he wasn’t. He wasn’t a local. He didn’t know the generations of people who had grown up with me and watched me grow, the children of my classmates, who I watched grow every year when we saw each other at our town’s events. Tidbits of Americana, such as our parade, are what make Novica home. It’s not the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, the Hollywood Christmas Parade, or the Main Street Electrical parade, but it’s ours, and I love it.
I caught myself longing for Michael - for his hand to hold, his shoulder to snuggle against later, while watching the parade. I wondered if there would still be parades one hundred and eighty years from now, when we could be seen in public together. Would we have to wait it out, or, would we eventually hop there?
“Yo, Sam,” Jay snapped her fingers in front of my eyes, and I blinked. “Where did you go?”
“Sorry, I was just thinking,” I smiled. “I’m starting my next book.” It was a good way to get people to stop asking what I was thinking about.
“The carnival is getting started, you ready to go?”
The girls and I took off after the older kids, leaving John and Jim behind with the napping two year old. By four, Heather decided she would take the two youngest over to the sitter’s, and come back. So, Jane, Jay and I traded with the guys, and let them take over with the other three kids, while we held down the spots on the parade route.
We hung out and chatted about wedding stuff, smiling and waving at people we knew, as they passed by.
Heather got back just before six, with a picnic dinner. Chris arrived just in time for the tree lighting ceremony at six-thirty, and once the giant fir tree’s transformation was complete, the announcers at the grand strand kicked off the parade.
At first, it was a normal parade. High school marching bands, dance and drill teams. An equestrian club, the Fire Department, small floats - nothing out of the ordinary.
Jay and I were sharing a bag of popcorn when the announcer said something I couldn’t believe I heard. “Let’s give a warm Novican welcome to United States Representative Eric Morrison, of Nevada, joining us here tonight to represent the Rod Car Club.”
Jay hissed, “What the hell is he doing here?”
The Congressman was sitting on the back of a gold convertible, which the announcer was describing in detail, but, we didn’t bother listening.
“I have no fucking clue,” I hissed back.
“The Rod Car Club? Ever hear of them?” She asked.
I thought a moment, staring at the back of his head as he rolled along. He turned, and almost met my gaze just as he passed in front of our spot on the curb. “As in the Rod of Asclepius?”
“No way,” she gasped. “Oh, that’s got to be it.”
I thought for a minute. “I wonder how many chapters they have? Is this how the BOAs have stayed under the radar?” I asked in her ear.
Her eyes got big, and she gasped. “Ohmygodyouaresoright!”
The others were oblivious to our conversation. I asked Jay, “Text Kristoff, yeah?”
“Okay,” she pulled out her phone.
I thought I was cold before, but seeing the man the Society believed to be at the head of the BOAs sent the chill to my bones. “I’m going to get some hot chocolate. Want some?”
“Nah, I’m alright.”
In line at the nearest vendor booth, I saw Jeff approaching. I wished he would go the other way, but, he clearly sought me out. “Sam, good to see you again.” He put one arm over my shoulder, in an awkward half-hug.
“Hi, uh, yeah. Merry Christmas.” Why did I need hot chocolate? “Where’s the family?”
“Oh, they kids weren’t feeling well, so, Rita stayed home.” Then, he looked up again, with a strange expression, like the other day. “Okay, so, uh, yeah. Just wanted to say hi.” And he left, without looking back at me.
Thank you for stopping by! I hope you're having a beautiful holiday season....