Last Friday we took our two-year-old daughter Ally over to Blacksburg to see the downtown holiday events. We were hoping to have her meet Santa, who was at the Lyric Theater, and take a picture of them together. As fate would have it, the organizer closed the door to the theater just as we walked up. Literally. The family in front of us opened the door and walked in, the organizer held the door for them but locked it and let it close before I could take the door. I didn't realize what she had done so I banged on the door lever ineffectively a couple of times, making enough of a racket that the organizer came to the door and said Santa couldn't see any more children or he'd be late for the Christmas parade later that evening.
I was furious. The Christmas parade in Blacksburg is notorious for running late each year, but apparently no one running the festivities has seen the need to have two Santas: one for meeting the children and one to ride in the parade. Thankfully we hadn't really talked a whole lot of meeting Santa that night so Ally was blissfully unaware of what she had just missed out on.
We walked up the street and got burritos and quesadillas for dinner at Moe's on the corner. Ally had a grand time watching all the people in the busy restaurant, listening to the background music, spinning around on the vinyl bench seat, and stuffing herself with the chips. And her kid's meal came with a chocolate chip cookie and juice box, so that just about made her evening right there. After dinner we walked in the dark up to the big spruce that the town decorates with lights each year.
The tree is big enough to walk under and Ally was amazed at being inside the Christmas tree with the lights all around her.
We then made our way over to the holiday farmers' market, where we listened to a tuba band play Christmas carols and watched more people. And lots of doggies were out that night. Ally is fascinated by dogs that are bigger than our miniature dachshund, and many of the dogs she saw Friday night were much, much bigger than ours. A colleague from my former department was selling wreaths made with his beautiful dahlia flowers which he had dried. He gave Ally one dried flower fashioned into a Christmas tree ornament, which Ally loved so much that she promptly crumpled it to death. Finally we walked back up to Main Street to wait for the Christmas parade to start.
Once it finally started, Ally drank it all in with big eyes and enormous fascination. The Blacksburg Christmas parade is classic small town, with home-made floats from the various churches, platoons of boy and girl scouts, people in costumes on bikes, and the high school beauty queen in a convertible. We only stayed for about twenty minutes before the cold got to be too much for us.
On the walk back to the car, Ally announced "I tired," in a deeply satisfied way. And I got to thinking at how little it takes to really impress a toddler. I had been very disappointed that we weren't able to see Santa, but Ally was thrilled by all the things she had seen, heard, and eaten that night. The chips and the cookie from dinner; the colorful lights, the dark night, and a tree you could walk under; tubas and doggies; and even all the bicyclists in the street. I know next Christmas will be very different because Ally will have naturally developed her own expectations for the holiday season, but for right now I'm very thankful for the opportunity to see Christmas through her truly innocent eyes.