“Where’s Santa?” All the kids on this year’s Santa Claus float were looking around and becoming anxious. The parade was starting and there was no Santa Claus. To tell the truth, I was becoming a little anxious, too.
Each year, members of the Clinton Kiwanis club volunteer, or are volunteered, to walk with the Santa Claus float at the annual Clinton Christmas Parade. The kids, who on the float with Santa, throw candy out to the crowd along the parade route. We walk beside the float inorder to keep the children watching the parade from getting too close to the float while picking up the candy, and possibly getting injured. It makes for an interesting parade walk, with little kids throwing out candy and little kids (and some not so little ones) scampering to pick up the pieces of candy.
Back to this year’s parade. The children, ages around five to eight years old, had their candy and their instructions. Don’t throw out too much early so there will be enough candy to last the whole parade. Also throw the candy far inorder to keep those picking up candy away from the float. They were ready. The parade was beginning, with the first floats pulling out of the Civic Center. But still no Santa. Then one of the kids yelled, “There he is!” Santa came out of the Civic Center and climbed on the float and got on his sleigh, much to the delight of his little helpers. The man really knows how to make an entrance.
The kids all wanted to talk to Santa and to get their picture with him. Then I heard one of the younger ones, Peyton, say earnestly, “Santa, I’ve been waiting the whole year to see you!” We started moving out, and despite a couple of delays, everyone had a great time. By the way, according to Peyton, the sleigh on the float wasn’t Santa’s real sleigh. His real sleigh was parked inside the Civic Center during the parade.
That Saturday night Terri and I went to Baptist Chapel Church back home in the Clement community for a fundraiser for Myron Maynor. Myron is a friend from way back. He has been sick and the community has joined together to help with his medical expenses. The folks there did a great job, and the event was a success. Karry Godwin performed that night during the benefit sing. Karry is another old friend. (Yes, most of my friends now are “old friends.”) He is also a talented guitarist and singer. In between songs, he started talking about hope. He defined hope as “the confident expectation of good.”
Hope, the confident expectation of good. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of it this Christmas season. The murders in Connecticut of twenty little children and six adults are beyond comprehension. The recent acts of violence in our own community makes you wonder about those around us, not just about some lunatic in another state. Institutions we used to count on, like our government, are wavering. Confidence is replaced by insecurity. Expectation of good is replaced by a dreary acceptance of an unsure future. And hope is replaced by fear.
But out of the darkness a voice is heard saying, “Do not be afraid!” It is an angel telling Mary that she will bear the Christ child. It is also an angel telling Joseph to take Mary as his wife and raise the child. Finally, it is the angel proclaiming to the good ol’ boy shepherds, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2: 10,11)
And that should be our foundation of hope during this Christmas season. Hope. You see it in the eyes of a little boy as he sees the jolly man dressed in red and says, “Santa, I’ve been waiting the whole year for you!” Hope. You see it in a community, coming together, sacrificing their time and effort to help another in their time of need. Hope is the confident expectation of good. And it is in hope that we confidently proclaim this Christmas that darkness will not prevail, the Light has come.