I haven't written in ages, so I have lots to catch up on. It's so easy to get swept up in all the preparations and tasks preceding and during the holidays that you forget to stop and write it all down, so friends, family and strangers can read about it.
First up is the Asheville Holiday Parade. We've been hearing about this thing since before we even moved here. Friends here promised us that whatever it lacked in sophistication, it would more than make up in drunken debauchery. How could we refuse? The key, we were told, is to station yourself on the patio of a bar, so you can start drinking as soon as they open. (And after 12:00 noon, because of the crazy alcohol laws.)
In an effort to subvert this tradition, the town decided to have the parade earlier this year. Undaunted, our little group arrived bearing thermoses of bloody marys, mimosas and, our contribution, hot buttered rum. Since the morning started with frigid temperatures, I'm glad we had something to warm us up a bit. Here's a helpful hint, though. Hot buttered rum tends to separate, so be sure to give your thermos a good shake before you pour.
What had been described as "heckling the parade," actually turned out to be no more than good-natured chanting. Our group grew to over 20 and would dutifully cheer and applaud for each float and group that went by. But on top of that, we'd start chanting helpful suggestions or demands for action. For instance, we had no patience for bands taking a break. So our crowd would start chanting, "Play! Play! Play!" and the bands would always comply. We got similar responses from dancers and all the martial arts kids. During lulls, the group would break out in Christmas carols, or failing that, TV theme songs. It was all extremely silly.
I used to be highly critical of my own hometown holiday parade. If only I had been drinking and surrounded by a group of funny and outrageous friends. Even the inevitable appearance of the town's garbage trucks would have been more enjoyable. There were no garbage trucks in the Asheville parade, but they did have tractors and horses and lots and lots of churches and competing manger scenes. And actress/model Andie MacDowell, who happens to be a resident of Asheville. Here's a photo:
She's unbelievably beautiful in person. In fact, she's so beautiful, I didn't even start shouting "Murder! Murder! Murder!" at her fur boots. Though I'm going to assume they're faux fur, since she was on the Humane Society float.
We had such a good time at the parade, that I really was sad when it came to an end. Our hosts told us it was a better experience when it was later in the day, because you had more time to drink before hand. True to form, they started making plans to meet earlier next year. At the risk of sounding too treacly, I'm really grateful for the people we've met here, who have embraced us and always include us in their plans now. It's humbling and very sweet.
We have one more parade to attend before the holidays end, though. This weekend we're off to Gatlinburg, Tennessee to witness the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade. The name alone makes me giddy.
Be sure to check out my parade photos on my Flickr page!