I was already in an optimistic mood eating my Honey Nut Cheerios to hopefully lower my cholesterol when the broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade started. One of the celebrity participants was interviewed and asked, “What do you like about the parade?” He responded, “It is about families coming out together, people gathering from all over the country, having a good time being together.” He asked, “Why can’t it be like this every day?”
Good question. Why can’t every day be like Thanksgiving? Why can’t we act like we’re in a parade every day? I wonder if we dream a little and talk to our children a lot, we might move towards that goal. On either side of the parade, airing on other cable channels, I watched parts of the classic movies, The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life and Spencer’s Mountain. In just one day – before and after our Thanksgiving meal and some football – my television showered me with thoughts of family, faith, hope, compassion and believing in ourselves. So, I wonder, why can’t every day be like Thanksgiving? How do we teach our kids that every day could be like this?
I know that many of my ideas may seem optimistic and maybe I am already caught up in the spirit of the season; but I can’t help thinking that maybe there really could be another miracle on 34th Street. On this day on that same legendary street, there were families from all over the country crowding the sidewalks to enjoy the pageantry and entertainment in the sunshine of New York City. Perhaps for a few hours believing in magic and wishing for their own miracles.
The entertainment was not on screen or in ear buds. The entertainment was live. Right before their eyes. It was singing and dancing. It was amazement at the floats. It was appreciation for the precision marching of the bands. It was awe at the sheer size of the balloons. It was the memories and stories the iconic balloons brought to mind.
There was music appealing to all segments of the crowd performed by artists of different generations. Some songs were recognized by the youngest children while grandmas and grandpas sang along with bands popular in their youth. And, as always, there were the Christmas classics which everyone knew. Old and new, young and old. Singing, smiling and laughing. Since a variety of artists performed, inevitably someone in the crowd inquired who they were. A knowledgeable fan would respond with the answer and often a memory. A day-long series of conversations starters continued as dialogue until a national treasure named simply “Cher” undoubtedly added one more line.
Diversity and Understanding
The giant balloons floated by in the same sky where they had sailed for years. Like baseball, those huge inflatables bring continuity and constancy. Characters like Snoopy are known and loved by parents and children alike. Thousands of volunteers hold long ropes to guide the iconic balloons – like holding the hands of children to assure they will not lose their way.
The marching bands from around the country brought their own distinctive styles stirring onlookers to reminisce about their own days in high school and college bands. One band from an HBCU renewed the appreciation for the unique musical performance legacy those schools maintain in our culture. During a couple of hours of entertainment, the commentators enlightened the audience with tidbits of information about each of the performers – adding to awareness and understanding of their neighbors.
The Home Team
The parade came to a close in the predictable way. The audience had waited hours to see the “home team.” As the Rockettes, performed intricate dance moves, everyone anticipated the finale with them all joining arms in their world-famous high kick routine. You could feel the anticipation in the crowd as their performance neared the end. Like the scene from one of those classic Christmas movies, the crowd saw it coming, but erupted in applause nonetheless. It would not be Thanksgiving without the Rockettes.
And then the guy we were all waiting for. Santa Claus. In our country, he remains the symbol of a season of joy. Of giving. Of belief in a magical idea that the world can come together at least once each year. Encouraged by his giving to all those who have forsaken naughty and focused on nice; we give gifts among our loved ones, because they are our loved ones. And to those in need, because they are in need.
In All Kinds of Weather
The parade has rumbled on for over one hundred years. In all kinds of weather, like our daily lives, the show has gone on. For a few hours, it prompts the best memories of our past and the best hopes for our future. The creativity in the floats. The talent and artistry of the performers. The selflessness of volunteers that makes folks want to do the same. Conversations among families and friends. People of all shapes and sizes marching together. All in the same direction. Headed for the same destination. The beginning of the journey connecting Thanksgiving and Christmas…the season of togetherness, giving, and love.
The parade gives us a sense of peace, gratitude and hope. It reminds us that America is a great place to live and if we all work together we can continue our parade of humanity. So, again I ask. Why can’t we find a way to all walk in the same direction? Why can’t we march in unison, sing off the same song sheet and hold on so others do not float a way? Despite our apparent diversity, why can’t we move our individual balloons and floats together in tranquility? Why can’t every day be like Thanksgiving?
I think we all have the answer in our hearts. I will leave it to you to wonder.
‘Some men see things as they are and say why, I dream things that never were and say, why not’ George Bernard Shaw