A Flash of Magic

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Brushing the stray hairs off of his lap as he stood, Robert couldn't help but notice the pronounced silver hair mingling haphazardly among the brown strands that fell to the floor.

“Thanks Cal" he said reaching into his wallet, brandishing a twenty dollar bill. “Merry Christmas, keep the change.”

“Merry Christmas to you to sir, thank you.” The barber answered graciously as he brushed off the chair.

Robert walked out into the chill of the mid December air, pulling his wool jacket tight as he headed back towards the office a few blocks ahead. He noticed the wreaths that hung from the traffic lights, garnished with bright red bows that burst with color against the gray backdrop of the overcast above. The wreath swayed slightly as a gust of cold air swept over the street, inviting a nostalgic memory to flicker as he thought back to the annual Christmas parade he attended with his family as a child.

The parade was tradition, and each year Robert looked forward to the outing. Together, with their neighbors, they would ride downtown in his father’s 1972 Chevrolet Impala that may have gotten 6 miles to the gallon if travelling downhill. Mr. Collins would sit in the front with his father as the kids and their mothers piled into the backseat. Charlie, Robert’s 4 year old brother, sat on his mother’s lap, while he and Wally Collins sat in the middle. Mrs. Collins anchored the other end, her arm ready to protect Wally in the event of an abrupt stop. The cramped ride brought a smile to Robert's face as he imagined the scene taking place in today's plastic imported cars.

From his place in the back, Robert remembered watching his father turn the key and adjust the controls on the dashboard. He would mimic his actions, rubbing his hands together before blowing into a fist for warmth as the car warmed. He pictured his mother, youthful and pretty, singing along with the Christmas carols on the radio as she bounced a giggling Charlie on her knee.

Arriving downtown, Robert would stare out at the couples walking, their gloved hands holding steaming cups as they made their way towards the parade. When the car would stop, he would hop out of the car ready to bolt towards the excitement before hearing his mother's voice.

“Come here Robbie, let’s get you zipped up. I don’t want you catching pneumonia out here..”

With the children sufficiently zipped, buttoned, and tied, they would begin the trek towards Main Street, which had been sectioned off in preparations for the event. With each step, his excitement swelled as he heard the band playing in distance, the ringing bells, and the sound of the horses trotting on the pavement as they pulled a carriage of carolers wearing top hats and scarves.

His father would walk with Wally’s father, discussing adult matters, as he and Wally walked ahead of Charlie, who would whine as he lagged behind until their mothers would direct them back to the sidewalk after running in the street, reminding him to watch after his little brother.

After a stern warning about running off, they would edge their way towards the front as the parade began under the large decorations of garland and bows. A whirring cheer filling the air as the crowd roared its approval, while the children stood wide-eyed and amused at the slow moving convoy making its way down the street.

There was the flatbed truck, decorated by girl scout troop who waived from the winter wonderland scene on the truck as it crept by. The antique convertible, shining from its fresh coat of wax, carrying the beauty queen whose smile beamed from her perch on the back seat. The marching band, their concurrent steps perfectly in stride as the chinstraps held their faces in a look of determined concentration while performing the sounds of the season. And lastly, as the early twilight began to settle over the horizon, Santa made his rounds, his sleigh being pulled by a tractor instead of reindeer, as he belted out a hearty Merry Christmas! while Mrs. Clause waived loyally from her seat at his side.

A piercing car horn jerked Robert from his thoughts. Traffic was halted at the light, and he watched as two drivers engaged in a shouting match that threatened to turn violent. The back and forth went on until the light turned green, where the cars raced towards the next light to resume their battle.

In a fleeting second, the magic was gone. Robert stepped off the curb and onto the crosswalk towards the large office building where he spent almost 10 hours every day, the 30 year memory vanishing with his breath into the brisk December air. He smiled as he walked up the steps, entering the warm building and back to the matters of the workday while remembering--if only for a moment--the simple pleasures of yesterday.


Copyright 2012 Pete Fanning

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Comments 10 comments

xstatic profile image

xstatic 3 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Interesting and nostalgic too. Nothing like ten hour days and some road rage to snap a person back to reality.


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for reading static, I appreciate it!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

An awesome, festive story for the holiday. For a few minutes I was Robert. Well done Pete!


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks Linda, glad you enjoyed it!


moonfairy profile image

moonfairy 3 years ago

wow, I feel like I was right there with you....the magic of nostalgia is wonderful. Thanks for sharing!


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Thanks for reading moon fairy, glad you liked it!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

weestro......Very well done. Memories are made of the things we hold close ....to serve us well....Happy Holidays!!


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Well said Paula, Happy Holidays to you as well!


Kenja profile image

Kenja 3 years ago from Long Island, NY

Here's what I think: lovely Hub. More than just "heartfelt." I also had this thought: while we are now more so a Big City nation, I do think in this century (with current technology that lets you connect to anyone, anywhere, including work), many people will return to small towns around the country, and that Americans will recreate Community in tight, mutually supportive and refreshing ways. I do.

Life -- especially after about age 35 -- is better when We supplants Me. I also like the reference to the old Impala. A used, red convertible '65 Chevy Impala was my first car, and I drove across country in it, from NY to California. Good times, better memories. Happy New Year Wee. Ken


weestro profile image

weestro 3 years ago from Virginia Author

Hey Kenja, thanks for the thoughts! Glad you enjoyed the hub, and I think you're on to something with the small towns in relation to technology. Happy New Year to you as well. Pete

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