We’ve had a couple periods of heavy snow and a few days worth of light snow and flurries here in Ottawa but these aren’t the only signs that Christmas is just around the corner. Reid and took part in our first Christmas activity last Tuesday when she got her picture taken with Santa and then on Saturday we attended Santa’s Parade of Lights in the Orleans part of Ottawa. I’d heard that the Help Santa Toy Parade (held downtown) was disappointing because of the low number of floats compared to minivans with signs on them and was a bit worried what Reid would think of her first-ever parade. (I don’t think we should count our experience 2 years when we waited in the bitterly cold weather for 45 minutes before abandonning the parade route without having seen a single float or having heard even a note from a marching band.
The temperature on Saturday seemed a good omen, though, hovering around freezing with no rain or snow. We went to Melissa and Peter’s for supper and then headed to the parade route to stand with friends of theirs who went earlier to save us a spot. It’s good to have friends who have friends like that. There was a bit of a scramble to find a place to park since we were later than we’d planned to be but we found a school parking lot. Since I’d decided to bring a stroller for Reid even though she is getting big for it, we were able to travel as fast as Ben’s 7 year old legs could carry him rather being limited by Reid’s speed – or my top speed while carrying her – over the 2 plus kilometres between the van and the meeting spot. We arrived with about 10 minutes to spare. There was a mat on the ground for the bigger kids and Reid sat in her stroller.
There were many floats and contingents from local schools, sports and arts organizations as well as politicians and other folks. There were some bands who marched and a couple who rode on flat bed trailers. There were quite a few fire trucks, historic and new, and there were fire fighters collecting money and toys for charity. I didn’t think to bring a toy but had some change for Reid to dole out. My favourite entrants were the high school volleyball players who played while their net rolled along and the OC Transpo bus that was “dressed up” as Santa Claus. Since the bus is red and white to begin with, the addition of the beard, eyes and hat made for a convincing St. Nick. If you could ignore the size, squareness and the people riding inside, that is. Throughout the parade, people were passing out candy canes and round hard candies. I remember scrambling in the gutter for candies thrown toward the crowd but people handed the treats directly to the kids. Reid must not have looked needy enough or worthy enough because she ended up with only 3 mini candy canes and 1 hard candy (that I wouldn’t let her eat for fear she’d choke, like I did on a cherry candy when I was her age and Roger had to do the Heimlich Manoeuvre to dislodge it). Ben, on the other hand, got enough candies to fill his toque and also a pencil. I was glad that Reid didn’t get more since it means that I don’t have to decide when she can have the treats. I’m lazy, I guess.
On Sunday afternoon, Reid and I joined Melissa, Sarah and Ben for a play called “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. The script followed the same story line of the tv show except Herbie the elf who wanted to be a dentist wasn’t in it, the abominable snowman wasn’t particularly menacing (for which I was glad) and Rudolph’s parents were entirely absent and so I didn’t have to be angry at them for their failure to nurture his uniqueness. The cast consisted of 3 men and 1 woman from London’s Duffle Bag Theatre, plus 2 boys chosen from the audience to play Santa and Rudolph and a girl who played Vixen. There was a lot of audience participation – we all said “eee” when the smiles of the Christmastown residents (that was us) were mentioned and said, “hohoho” when the actors said, “Santa” and that sort of thing. Reid wasn’t scared at all (unlike at Goldilocks and the Three Canadian Bears) but watched with a bemused but happy expression. The staging of the play was minimalist – just a screen, a chest (the “duffle bag” I suppose) and the imaginations that each of us brought with us. The absence of elaborate scenery, coupled with the super-simple costumes, mainly hats and a red foam nose for Rudolph, wasn’t as overwhelming as the tv show is. Okay, confession time. I find the television version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to be more than a little creepy and I think Rudolph has mange or some other skin condition. Not that I could handle a repeat of trying to watch a Christmas special with commercials in it – the trauma caused by Reid’s incessant questioning on the existence, meaning and role of commercials is still to fresh in my mind. She is such a Treehouse and TV Ontario kid!
After the play, we went into the Canadian Children’s Museum and heard a couple of members of a klesmer band play some songs before going to do the craft for which I had registered everyone. We made lanterns out of balsa wood stars covered with tissue paper that held a small baby food jar and a votive candle. As we left carrying the kids’ works of art, I told Melissa that I was pretty sure that Ken would never allow Reid to light her lantern. Melissa grinned and agreed that Peter would hold similar views. Ken’s reaction didn’t cause me to doubt myself. When he saw the lantern he said, “That looks flammable,” in the sort of tone that made me think maybe I could light the candle in the lantern if I were far from him, Reid and our house but Reid wouldn’t see it. She hasn’t asked about it since Sunday but perhaps it should disappear anyway, eh?