It Dawned on Me: Okay to be Sentimental

Dawn De Busk

By Dawn De Busk

BN Columnist

This holiday season, I have indulged in sentimentality despite my best judgement.

In other words, I’ve let myself be moved by emotions and by the sweet simplicity of community traditions instead of being shielded from holiday cheer by my usual rant against the commercialism of Christmas and so on and so on.

This year, I veered from my usual habits.

I got into the Christmas spirit immediately after Thanksgiving instead of postponing the joy until a few frantic days before Christmas.

For me, this new goal is to be moved by what is meaningful and human and spiritual and ritualistic in the Christmas countdown — not just the advent taking place inside churches and houses, but also what is going on in the community near my home.

Such things occur in the Saturday parades, during the Santa sightings, through the many helpful hands of volunteers, and on the night of the town’s tree lighting.

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, exactly one month before Christmas, a girlfriend met me on the sidewalks of downtown Norway to watch the start of the parade.

Now, my girlfriend and I aren’t ones to miss out on a parade — especially one that takes place when our schedules allow us the freedom to go. The plan to do this one was super spontaneously. We decided late Friday night to meet each other Saturday morning. Our timing was perfect. The parade was awesome and big, lots of floats and walking groups.

For the first time ever, I watched the parade organized by the Oxford County Chamber of Commerce. I loved the creative floats that people put together, the colors, the various activities from every direction, the excitement level of the crowd — especially the children and the cute antics of animals.

My friend and I were standing exactly where the parade turned the corner to travel down Main Street. That’s where she stayed for the parade. Me? I followed a float, trying to take a photo of a baby calf. I finally got my coveted photo several hundred feet later when the driver stopped. I turned around to face some parade participants who were on foot — some carrying cats or small canines in their arms while others held the leashes of larger breed dogs. A Golden retriever is distinct in my mind. Then, the cat caught my eye. The cat was black with white paws. Both cat and owner were dressed in red and white sweaters. The cat pushed away from its owner like a toddler wanting to be put down. Next thing I know, the cat is strolling down the sidewalk on its leash-harness getup. First stop is a child’s stroller, which the cat sniffs. Along the way, gloved hands reach down to pet the cat until the woman realizes she is four or five floats behind her group. The cat is snatched up and off she ran.

After the parade, my girlfriend treated me to lunch and lattes at Café Nomad. Then, we drove the road in search of red berries.

That evening, I arrived at Moore Park, where the voices of friends and strangers joined in Christmas carols.

One surefire way to get into Christmas is through music. Most humans are moved by music. It can bring about an attitude change very quickly.

Listening to holiday songs is a good way to get into the spirit of the season. So is decorating for the holiday. (I am certain there is research proving when a person gets involved in the activities of a season, participates in the rituals, there are benefits.) Perhaps, a person feels connected to life and included in a group of people. Perhaps, the benefit is getting the job done of putting the Christmas tree up.

I was at Moore Park on the first night the trees were illuminated — with the town manager keeping his speech short, saying, “I hope this works.” And, it did. The crowd lingered, appreciating the designs and colors, waiting to snap family photos. Younger children ran in all direction inside the safety of the gazebo now encircled with warm, yellow lights. Older children bounded up and down the stairs of the war veterans’ monument.

Some trees were strung in white and blue light. Some had white tree trunks with the branches outstretched in red and green.

On the far edge of the park, the lights on an oak run the gamut of holiday hues. Those many lights wrap around and around, causing a person to gaze toward the heavens.

After the tree-lighting, I asked some strangers what they thought. The first woman said it was much better a few years ago and she cited examples of how there had been more trees lit up and some enormous glass balls hanging from the trees. Not as good, she said. The man said it was fortunate that the town did this for the citizens. He said singing carols made him feel like he was part of the community.

Then, I turned to the elderly woman who was standing with the aid of her walker. Despite the darkness, I could hear the twinkle in her voice.

She said, “It’s all very nice. The lights on the trees are wonderful — just wonderful.”

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