We live in a large village. We’ve been here now for almost 18 months, but I feel like a proper newbie because I spent the first year pretty much stuck indoors, so I barely know anyone yet. Anyway, we’ve just shambled down the hill to watch the Christmas lights being switched on. I just happened to spot a note in the local newsagents when I swung past this morning to get my annual hair cut.
I have no idea how other small communities do it, but we gathered by a Christmas tree on the main street that had a mobile PA system rigged out the back of a car. Everyone sang ‘Hark The Herald Angels’ (or mimed or shuffled their feet in embarrassment), then the minister said a few words over the PA. Two little kids pressed the button that lit the lights on the Christmas tree, then Santa Claus came marching down the street, ringing a schoolbell, with the kind of swinging swagger that belongs to a confident kilt-wearer. He was instantly mobbed by clamouring kids and teenagers, all wanting some of the sweeties he was handing out. I understand now why he was sporting bare arms under his cloak, and why those arms were gnarly and strong: it gets a tad hot holding up the combined weight of 200 kids who’re pressing on you! (ok I exaggerate: 50, tops).
Minx 1 and 2 sat on their Daddy’s shoulders till Santa saw them and gave them a sweet. Whilst P took it all in her sophisticated 4 year old stride, Middle Minx’s little face at seeing Santa swing down the street was a picture of disbelief. Minx 3 was still reeling from being up close to my dinosaur-like carol singing, so snored her head off in the sling throughout Santa’s visit. One very nice neighbour was almost apologetic about the lights not being particularly great. I don’t think it matters whether they’re extravagant or not, it’s just nice for a community to come together to mark an occasion like that. The excitement from the assembled children was palpable, and they get excited about innocent things like that for such a short time (said the cynic).
With our kids being so young, we’re still sorting out what our family Christmas traditions will be. I suspect that attending the Christmas lights switch on will become one of them.