For Xmas this year, I gave my 4-year old son a parade.

Well, actually, what I really gave him is his first experience of being in a parade.

The parade’s theme was botanical oasis so
the adults were the pollinators flitting around our little sprouts.

Twenty members of our mamas and papas cooperative marched through our town’s main thoroughfare, pulling decorated wagons as half of our children ran around us, handing out high fives to parade watchers who were lined up along both sides of the boulevard.

We weren’t the biggest parade entry, nor were we the splashiest, but we made it in to the parade and that, to us, was perfect! Being in this year’s procession was a little goal we had dreamed up while sitting on the sidelines of that same spectacle the year before, when we ate pizza and enjoyed our seasonal experience as a group of people (versus as just our own, individual families).

Making it into the parade line-up this year required at least a dozen hours of communication, meetings and decorating our little floats, ourselves and our children. We also had to survive the parking and driving nightmare that becomes the downtown city streets after our main road’s closure on the day of the event.

All in all, I think I spent the same amount of time, energy and money on this pursuit, as I would have spent as a holiday shopper beginning the season of giving on Black Friday.

The mamas made our floats.

While the boys floated through the backyard.

I painted our banner.

I didn’t want to follow through on my commitment when it came to being in this year’s holiday parade, though. It’s been a challenging year in our home, and one that has brought with it my partner’s stage 4 cancer diagnosis. After speaking with him about my resistance to participating in the fanfare, however, he convinced me to celebrate life in all the myriad of ways that we can right now.

So, our son ran, skipped and walked alongside nine of his friends, and peers, as they took in the bright lights and big sounds of our little town. Personally, I have been involved in my local community’s parades since I was about eleven years old. There can be a sense of pride that comes with feeling seen by one’s community while also representing a larger body of people.

I also find a deeper sense of connection, with my neighbors and many of the organizations around me here, when I engage in these types of activities.

So, this year, even though it was extremely challenging and I really would have preferred to just hide under a rock and let the storm of my life pass over, I gifted my son, as well as a group of his friends, with the values of Community, Pride and Engagement.

These are values that I hold dear, and that I wish for others to appreciate, enjoy and embody. Truly, in these dark times, now is the season to celebrate light and love.

Marching through downtown

Mama Erika wrangles the children in with a light up hula hoop.

We don’t give our child the story of a Santa who brings him lots of gifts every year.

Instead, we are teaching him how to create a life that will sustain, nurture and nourish him in the many years to come.

Each new year, my heart hurts to see discarded Xmas trees laying haphazardly on a neighborhood sidewalk, awaiting their fate as a trash truck makes its post-holiday rounds.

This symbol of warmth and goodness that is invited in to people’s homes is just tossed out, after a mere couple of weeks.
I can’t give my child this – it’s so unkind.

This Mama Moves mountains.

This holiday season,
may we all give more and take less,
and may we expect this of our children, as well.

Magic is always a foot.
We can create it.

You’ve got the moves, Mama!