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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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santa claus parade

Spent a lot of time waiting for things yesterday. :-)

First I went to the Hummingbird Centre (used to be called the O'Keefe Centre, and I'm still quite adjusted to the new name even after these years). I arrived about 40 minutes before the box office opened to get Nutcracker tickets for Ruth, Sara, Annie and me, and there were already about thirty people in line (!). First thought through my head was, "Are these people NUTS? Don't they have LIVES?" But then duh-uh, I realized I was one of them.

I'm pretty hyped about seeing this National Ballet of Canada production with the girls, especially since it's Annie's first ballet. When I finally got to the front of the line and chose some seats, however, I made a terrible discovery: I had left my credit card at home. ALL my cards, including my bank cards. They had fallen out of my purse-pouch in my book bag before I transferred the pouch to my knapsack, and I hadn't noticed.

AUGH. I asked the woman at the counter if she would accept a credit card number if I phoned my husband for it. She said sorry, no....she had to have the actual credit card. I begged and pleaded and begged some more, and finally she went to her manager and YAY, they let me buy the tickets. Probably just to get rid of my desperate-looking face pressed against the glass, I'm sure. :-)

Went straight to the Bay, where I met up with my sister and her family, Jeff, as well as our friends Andy, Christine and Elspeth for lunch in the cafeteria. By the time we got out to the street, the crowds waiting for the parade were substantial. Some families find a good sitting place along side of the parade route hours in advance, but we've always opted for the last-minute approach to avoid making the kids wait for that long with nothing to do (plus it's often pretty cold).

The crowds were bigger this year, probably because of the good weather and also because something like the Santa Claus Parade helps offset some of the bad vibes post-Sept.11. Elspeth and Sara spent more than half the time on Andy's, Christine's, and Jeff's shoulders so they could see over the crowd. Annie and Kaarel had found a cozy spot closer to the front and spent most of the time sitting (which is why I was unable to get any good photos of them).

I thought the parade this year was better than last year's. Less long gaps between floats, and there seemed to be more effort put into the floats. As in previous years, however, there was always a period of about twenty minutes near the end when I started getting impatient for the Santa float (marking the end of the parade). I kept saying, "Hey, where's Santa? Can you see the Santa float yet?" until Ruth jabbed me surreptitiously in the ribs. My favourite bits of the parade included the Harry Potter Hummer, the dashing-looking uniformed guys on horses (didn't pay attention to the sign in front to remember who they were, sorry), and (for obvious reasons) the Santa float. The adults all agreed that some of the clowns looked darned scary this year. But then again, clowns are usually scary-looking, aren't they? Where did this idea of clowns being funny and cute come from, anyway? But I digress...

Had dinner at my sister's, where Dad made another scrumptious lamb dinner (two types this type: New Zealand lamb and Ontario lamb). Four-year-old Annie showed me the words she had learned to read and spell on her blackboard. Annie desperately wants to read like her older sister Sara. She is constantly spelling things out loud to Ruth or Kaarel, asking them what the words mean. While at the Royal Winter Fair a little while ago, Kaarel and Annie were in the men's washroom. Kaarel was waiting outside Annie's stall when Annie spelled out a four-letter word she saw on the wall and called out to Daddy to ask what it meant.

But I digress again...

Anyway, we also watched watched some of a video my Dad had compiled from various 8mm home movies...the first class he ever taught as a teacher, shots of me at my third birthday, me chasing butterflies in Edwards Gardens. Jim hadn't been born yet, but there were some shots of one-year-old Ruth.

Sara and Annie were especially interested in footage of their mom as a baby. Then Sara asked me about a woman in a white dress who was pushing me around in a stroller.

"That's my mother," I told her. "She'd be your grandmother."

Sara was silent for a moment as we watched the flickering images on the television screen, and then she turned to me again.

"Doesn't watching this make you miss her, Auntie Debbie?" she asked.

"Yes, Sara," I said after a brief pause. "It does."

That night, the girls asked if we could put them to bed. Jeff put Annie to bed this time, I went with Sara. I am overjoyed to report that Sara has become a bookworm recently...she -loves- reading. Ruth made the girls a little house out of a giant cardboard box, and they decorated it with windows, put cushions inside, etc. Sara likes taking her books and reading them inside this private clubhouse with a flashlight.

Anyway, that night she read some of Tracey West's "Pixie Tricks" to me, lying in bed, our heads nestled on the same pillow. She was wearing her new glasses, and changed her voice with different expression as she read the dialogue for various characters in the story. As I watched her, I kept remembering how I used to rock her to sleep in my arms when she was a baby, and wondered how often parents went through this feeling of "how could she have grown up so fast".

After putting the girls to bed, Jeff and I dropped by Parki's for tea and to admire the tables he's finished making. Hopefully he'll post pics on his Web site soon!


James Lilek's entry for today's Bleat has some brilliant remarks re: Star Wars. An excerpt: "And I wish a bad case of Ewok Shudder Pox for Lucas, if the reports Iím hearing are correct about Episode Twoís new trailer: more crappy stilted dialogue, which is unforgivable. And the trailers test positive for traces of JarJar, which is just lunacy. I hear he falls off a building - if this is the first scene, and the camera lingers long on his spasming body impaled on a Coruscant flagpole, fine. Otherwise: oy. George Lucas, in his reclusivity, may truly rival Jacko for cluelessness at this point."


- Christine and Elspeth.

- Sara's letter to Santa. It's traditional for Canada Post workers to collect these letters at the beginning of the parade. Sara said she didn't ask Santa for anything in the letter, just said she hoped he was well, and that he had a nice Christmas. You can see Sara and her letter for LAST year's parade in this archived Blathering entry.

- Christine, Andy, Elspeth, Sara (still holding her Santa letter), and Annie. Not shown in the Santa Claus Parade group: Ruth, Kaarel, Jeff and me.

- One of the exhibits in the parade.

- Peering down the road to see if Santa is coming.

Today's Poll: (Suggest a question)

Have you ever been IN a parade?

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