Jim Furlong: Parade into Tomorrow

I was driving through St. John’s in the rain last Sunday. Down near New Gower Street on my way out of town, I saw people hurrying towards what was the 2019 edition of the Santa Claus parade. 

There were whole families headed downtown and sometimes there were moms and dads with just one child. Sometimes there was a single parent with children in tow. There was an air of excitement in it all and you could see people struggling with the task of keeping their charges under control. 

No easy task

I can tell you from experience with both Christmases past and children; it is no easy task. Still, the atmosphere was one of high expectation. It was electric really and I envied the young families. 

You could see some parents had already done this a few times, but for others it was a new and rewarding experience. There were sights to be seen and young faces that would soon light up on a Sunday afternoon. 

For reasons mysterious I parked near the Sergeant’s Memorial and just watched people headed down into the heart of the city. It was still raining at that hour, but the weatherman had correctly predicted it would stop. Somewhere in it all I found a gentle sadness that was difficult to understand. 

Wife and I had always taken our three sons to the Santa Claus parade. In this year of our Lord 2019 the boys are all hail and hearty and into their thirties. They are moving along with their lives. They will all be at our table on Christmas Day. We will have dinner and we will count our blessings; if not out loud. 

Still, as I watched families hurry to this year’s edition of the Santa Claus parade there was something mildly disquieting about it. I have a hunch it may be about the very fluid and difficult concept of “innocence.”

Innocence of children

When we went to the Santa Claus parades a quarter of a century ago the world was near perfect. It was filled with the innocence of children and, to an extent, the innocence of young parents. 

We thought for a while that life was going to be easy and the paths to be followed by all of us were straight and led only upward. I add quickly that these paths are still pretty good, but they are very different. They are steeper and more difficult than we ever imagined. 

They are filled with receipts from bills that have been paid, jobs that have been taken, careers that have changed, houses that have been bought and sold, and the thousand other things that make up our lives in the 21st century. 

That isn’t a bad thing, but is rather a statement of the way things are. 

We have been lucky, but I have a feeling that all of us, in some corner of our souls that is protected, wish we could take mom or dad by the hand again and go to the Santa Claus parade. 

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: [email protected]

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