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‘Tis the season for Christmas parades in the area, and I get to cover a few of them as a reporter.
It’s usually an easy, fun gig. People are happy and excited to see their friends and loved ones perform or drive by on Christmas-themed floats. Kids try to pick out the best spot on the parade route to catch candy. Vendors sell hot chocolate and funnel cakes.
Who could complain about this job? Parades are the reporter’s gift for every tough story she has to write throughout the year.
I expected this gift on Saturday in Bailey for its annual Christmas parade, but as I drove down the highway, the clouds darkened and became heavy. The forecast had been iffy leading up to the weekend, but these clouds brought certainty. The rain was coming, and it was going to pour.
I glanced over at the raincoat lying haphazardly on the passenger’s seat and the camera bag on top of it. Even with assurances that the parade would happen “come rain or shine,” I still wondered if the event would be canceled if enough rain fell. I imagined getting to Bailey and taking pictures of soaked would-be parade-goers hurrying to their cars. The day was turning into a gift I no longer wanted.
Still, I drove on to Bailey, parked and prepared to cover whatever the next couple of hours brought. I started a conversation with a woman and her mother in the car next to mine.
“You have a baby in the parade?” the woman asked, looking at my camera.
“No, ma’am. I’m a reporter. Do you think this thing is still happening?”
“Don’t worry, it’s happening. We come every year, and the parade happens in sun, rain, sleet. Don’t matter. You can count on it.”
I explored the vendors and did a little people-watching before settling into my spot along the route. The parade started 10 minutes early in the hopes it would finish before the rain began. But the rain, almost as if triggered by the loudspeaker amplifying emcee Cecil Hawley’s voice, started right on cue.
The parade kept right on going. Onlookers kept sitting or standing in their places. Kids kept running after candy. Pageant queens held umbrellas with one hand and waved with the other. And I kept taking pictures and notes.
Everyone noticed the rain, but no one stopped. I realized this rainy-day parade was the gift I may not have wanted but certainly needed.
Last weekend made me think of the hackneyed saying “Don’t rain on my parade.” I’ve said this a number of times over the years when people or circumstances bring negativity when I’m trying to do something that brings me joy. However, the logic behind the saying is flawed. It places the responsibility for our joy on something other than ourselves. We shouldn’t ask for it to not rain on our parade, but instead, make a decision and preparations to hold our parade come rain or shine.
Even in moments when things are uncomfortable, we should be able to count on our own joy. No one or nothing can stop our parade except for us. Let it rain.
LaMonique Hamilton Barnes is a reporter and copy editor for The Enterprise and The Wilson Times. She blogs about arts and culture at iamlamonique.com.