Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chili Feed & Christmas Parade in Caney, Kansas

I love parades, especially Christmas parades in small towns. For me, they're a nostalgic look back to the way life used to be before holidays got so frantic, expensive, commercial, and impersonal.

Tonight, Yarntangler and I bundled up in our warmest coats, hats, gloves, and long johns because the temperature has been hovering down in the 20s lately, and drove fifteen miles south to Caney, Kansas, very close to the Kansas-Oklahoma border. One of the churches was offering a chili feed before the parade, so we stopped in, paid our $5.00, and were served delicious homemade chili, with cheese on top if we wanted, iced tea or water, and our choice of many, many different kinds of desserts. All of them looked so delicious it was hard to decide which one to choose. I thought about taking a couple of different ones, such as a piece of pie and and a slice of chocolate cake, but then saw the size of the bowls of chili and quickly selected some apple pie with a lattice crust.

One of the men served us bowls of chili, along with some plastic-wrapped soda crackers. And that's when the fun started. I opened a package of crackers and the wrapper clung to my finger. No matter what I did, no matter which way I moved my hand, wriggled my fingers, shook my arm up, down, and sideways, that little piece of plastic held on for dear life. I finally had to bury it under a napkin to keep it from shooting directly back to my finger. Apparently the dry, cold air and the carpet in the building combined to create enough static electricity to turn opening crackers into a scientific experiment. So, milking that for all it was worth, I proceeded to move my hand over the plastic so people could watch it jump up to my fingers. I slid it around the table without touching it. I made it rise into the air. Ah, little things can be so exciting sometimes!

After dinner, people began leaving for the parade, which was supposed to start at 7:00. We ambled down Fourth Street, looking at the Christmas lights and decorations, enjoying the window displays, and people-watching. We listened to some old Christmas favorites such as "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree,"and Yarntangler told me she'd once won a talent contest with that song. An antique/second-hand store was open, so we explored that a little. She found a nice knitted scarf and hat set for $1.00 - what a good buy!

Finally, the parade started with a long line of city vehicles, including police cars and fire trucks. Some of the drivers waved to us, some just stared straight ahead as though driving in heavy traffic. Some threw candy to the kids, who came prepared with large plastic bags for their haul.

The Caney High School band marched and played Christmas songs; the Girl Scouts had a float; a group of motorcyclists vroomed their way down the street; some farm tractors displayed their Christmas lights, and Santa Claus visited from the North Pole to end the parade.

After it was over, we wandered over to a table for a cookie and some very welcome hot chocolate. It was so much fun talking with Yarntangler and hearing stories about her life that in many ways almost paralled mine. We decided that next year, many of us Amazon workampers should either enter a float in some of the city parades or decorate our RVs and drive them down the street as part of the parade. It would be a wonderful way to thank our host cities of Coffeyville and Independence for their wonderful and gracious welcomes these past few months.

Driving back, we looked forward to doing it again tomorrow night, this time here in Coffeyville for their annual holiday parade.


Cedar ... said...

I love the sense of "community" that these small town events give us. That's why I continue to call a small town in far upstate NY home. I enjoyed your description of the plastic wrapper,.. I'll bet I'd have been in stitches with laughter!

Yarntangler said...

We had so much fun last night, I'm looking forward to freezing our tushies off again this evening.

I felt like a six year old playing with that cracker wrapper. Do you think we've been out in the cold too long??

spiritualastronomer said...

LOL! No, I think we're still in our first childhood.