Christmas and Winter and the holiday season remind me of the Moffat books by Eleanor Estes.
And it's all because of one word: chilblains. Somebody in the book, probably Jane, was always worried about chilblains when the cold weather set in. I didn't even know what chilblains were, but it sounded bad.
I learned a lot from reading the Moffats. I learned about dressmaker dummies, and what it's like to have to move and to get your first library card and to grow up during wartime, and about making a fool of yourself in front of your peers, and helping someone who's in trouble. I also learned new words like chilblains, and what it was like to be really cold in the winter, something that seems rather far-fetched here in southern California where winter means you actually might have to put a sweater on if you go outdoors in the evening between Thanksgiving and St Patrick's Day.
We were downtown a couple of weeks ago, sitting on lawn chairs on the sidewalk with the rest of the town, waiting for the commencement of our local Christmas Parade at dusk, and Gary wasn't even wearing his jacket. He couldn't remember a time when it had been this warm at the parade. No chilblains for us!
Going to the Christmas parade is a tradition for us, mostly because the high school marching band is in the parade, and our kids have all been in the band over the years. Well, that's not the whole reason. I remembered going to Christmas parades when I was a young child and I thought my kids, when they were little, would also enjoy the experience. It's so Moffat.
I don't remember a Christmas parade in San José where I grew up. But before my grandparents moved away from Watsonville, we used to go down there for the parade. It was sometimes chilly enough that my grandparents, parents, and aunt and uncle would stay in the car (they were avoiding chilblains, I guess). But they still wanted to be able to see the parade, and that meant getting the people standing in front of the car to somehow move away. So they told my brother and sister and cousins and me to make nuisances of ourselves by running around in the crowd, making noises, singing, and being just generally bratty.
I remember a Stanford U drinking song we used to sing - I can't remember who taught it to us, my mother or father or some other adult relative - but it was the kind of song that rhymed "beer" and "cheer", "wine" and "fine", and "whiskey" and "frisky". (I looked up the lyrics here. Either I've apparently remembered it wrong, because there is no "wine" verse in the listed lyrics, or else my parents substituted it for one of the other verses.)
Can you imagine how delightful it was for us to be ordered by our parents to be rotten and rude? "Yes, children", imagine the adult responsible for your upbringing saying to you, "Run amok through these grownups, bump into them, be as annoying as possible, and sing a song about getting drunk while you're at it." What a lovely Christmas gift!
This year it was just Gary and I at the parade. Most of the kids have moved on, and the last of them was in the marching band. I got my camera out, prepared to take pictures when he came along with his shiny new trumpet.
I took a picture of the Marine Corps band just fine:
I took a picture of the Cool Horses pulling the Old Steam Fire Engine just fine:
I took a picture of my favorite Vintage Auto just fine:
But when the band came along, some chucklehead, in fact a whole pod of chuckleheads, walked right in front of me, obstructing my view. I had to run down the street a block or two and get ahead of the band again so I could try taking another picture. Even then, people still got in the way.
I began to wish I had a group of little ones that I could teach songs to and command them to annoy the chuckleheads out of my way. Because an adult bumping into people and singing loudly about being drunk would just get arrested. And that's not Moffat.