I'm getting into Christmas.
And what better way than a repost of one of my Christmas Short Stories?!
If you missed Part One, you can go here.
Part Two is here.
And Part Three here.
Don't worry. You won't miss anything . . .
For the next several weeks, the town was abuzz with talk from both Jenna Grace's camp and from F. Roddy's.
Floats were being assembled in nearly every available garage.
Both town bands, the high school marching and the veteran's brass were rehearsing nightly.
Not one, but two Town Sweetheart contests were held. (The town's one hair dresser worked straight out for two days solid, finally collapsing into her own wash chair after completing Mrs. Jasper's elaborate upsweep.)
And, strangely, two Santa's had been engaged. Sleighs, reindeer and all.
Colorful posters from F. Roddy's group began to appear, proclaiming the date and route of the much-anticipated parade.But before anyone could read them, they were quietly replaced by posters from Jenna Grace's camp.Which were subsequently torn down and replaced themselves.
This went on until the very day of the parade.
But, as the date and time were consistent in both, the general populace didn't really take much notice of the details, other than that the route would, at some time or other, follow main street.Thus it was with great anticipation, that the entire town, or at least those few who were not actually in the parade, lined the single main street on the chosen date.
The day was perfect.
Snow had fallen, but only enough to provide a white backdrop to the festivities.
The air was crisp, not too cold, but just enough to put a snap into the air and tint cheeks and noses pink.
The hot chocolate vendor in front of the city hall was doing a brisk business, as was the hot cider man across the street in front of the pool hall.
The smell of freshly-roasted nuts and popcorn filled the air and made smiling mouths water.
There was much talk and laughter and jostling for position.
Finally, the sound of drums.
Everyone stilled and necks craned as people tried to catch the first glimpse of the marching bands which would lead the way.
"They're coming from that way!" Mayor Mayor shouted, pointing to the north.
"No, I think I can hear them coming from this way," Kevin Rhymes said, pointing in the opposite direction.People strained first one direction, then the other.
Surely the music was coming from both directions?
Sudden movement.Ah. There, led by F. Roddy Digby enthusiastically swinging a long, gold Marshal's pole, were the town veterans, their brass instruments gleaming in the noon sun, as they blared out their own version of 'Jingle Bells'.Behind them, colorful floats and decorated bicycles.
Wait. There was more music.
Different music.Peoples' heads spun back as the High School marching band came into sight.
From the opposite direction.
Led by a smiling Jenna Grace Chappell, waving her own shining symbol of authority, and stepping smartly to the strains of 'Here Comes Santa Claus', they quickly closed the gap that separated the two bands.
The people clapped and cheered.
This was the best parade ever!
For a moment, anyway.
When the two groups were no more than twenty feet apart, Jenna Grace and F. Roddy suddenly came to a stop.Facing each other.
In the very center of main street.
Each parade came to a halt behind them, stepping smartly in place as the bands continued their respective musical selections.
Narrow-eyed, Jenna Grace and F. Roddy glared at each other, still continuing to beat to the music with their Marshall's poles.
Then F. Roddy raised his eyebrows. "What are you going to do now, Chappell?" he shouted, grinning.
Jenna Grace's eyes flared and, without warning, she swung her Marshal's pole like a baseball bat.
F. Roddy let his pole slide through his fingers and turned to meet the blow.
A hollow 'clang' rang out over the combined music of both orchestras.
It acted like a signal.
Still marching in place, the bands immediately increased their volume, attempting to drown out their opposition.
The two Marshals in the center were doing a lively dance, swinging and ducking as they alternately tried to hit their opponent and avoid the other's pole.The cacophony of sound increased.Brasses versus brasses, drums against drums, and over it all, the hollow 'crash' and 'clang' of the two Marshal's poles.
The respective songs ended.
One of the tuba players collapsed against his fellows as he blasted out one final note.
There was a moment of comparative silence as each group drew breath to begin again.Only the rat-tat-tat of the snare drums continued, along with the occasional sound of Marshal's pole meeting Marshal's pole and the grunt of the two protagonists.
Suddenly, Jenna Grace's pole found its way through F. Roddy's defense and hit him squarely in the solar plexus.
F. Roddy went down like a sack of potatoes.
But as he went, he lost his grip on his pole and it fell with evil precision, hitting the top of Jenna Grace's head, who summarily joined him on the pavement.At that moment, a lone trumpeter began to play 'Let There be Peace on Earth'.
The rest of his orchestra took up the tune.
Then the players from the opposite group joined in.For the first time, real music drifted from the assembled musicians.
Then the trumpets in the front row of the Veteran's band glanced towards the side street open before all of them and looked back at their fellows in the other orchestra.The front row trumpets of the High School band nodded and both groups turned, as one, and started down this new path.Soon the rest of the two parades were following (adroitly avoiding their two erstwhile leaders now sitting up dazedly on the hard pavement), and weaving together to form one giant procession.
The assembled townspeople followed, clapping and laughing and also pointedly stepping around the two on the ground.Finally, Jenna Grace Chappell and F. Rodney Digby were alone in an empty street.They stared at each other.
Finally, F. Roddy reached for his much abused Marshall's pole. He stared at it for a moment, then sighed softly and struggled to his feet. "May I assist you?" he said."Yes. Please," Jenna Grace replied, reaching for her own battered pole.
F. Roddy reached out a hand and helped her up.
The two of them walked shakily over to the curb and sat down.
For several seconds they remianed there, listening to the fading music.
"So, where did we go wrong?" F. Roddy said.
"I don't know," Jenna Grace replied. "But we did go wrong. Somewhere."
Again, they were silent.
"Care for a cup of hot chocolate?" F. Roddy asked.