men in skirts (and other seasonal attractions)

pipers piping

No, it’s not yet the 11th day of Christmas (“11 pipers piping”), but the pipe bands marching in Saint John’s Santa Claus parade on Saturday night have helped to put me in the Christmas spirit. Twinkly lights and red bows brighten the streets from one end of the city to the other, and carols accompany every trip through the grocery store.

The newspaper is also fatter — just like the legendary Christmas goose — filled to overflowing with sale flyers promising super specials on everything from cranberry-stuffed cheese balls to a computer-enhanced paintball game. My own Christmas shopping will be much too modest to boost the local economy, so as an antidote, I try to focus on the non-commercial aspects of Christmas. To quote a perennial holiday film, here are a few of My Favourite (Christmas) Things:

10. Pipe bands (gotta love those kilts) or brass bands, playing outdoors.
9.   Skating on Lily Lake to the sound of waltzes from the pavilion loudspeaker.
8.  Watching dogs and children frolicking in the fresh-fallen snow.
7.   Strings of lights and cheery decorations on people’s homes and businesses.
6.   The food. Oh, the food, the food, the food.
5.   Visiting. Seeing farflung friends and family is worth a holiday all by itself.
4.   Decorating the tree. All my ornaments have stories; hanging them on the tree is like opening a box of precious memories.
3.   Singing along with Handel’s Messiah. Just try not standing up during the Hallelujah Chorus (I know, that’s part of the Easter section, but who’s counting…).
2.   Giving gifts. While I do enjoy getting, giving is even better — I love seeing that pleased expression on a loved one’s face.
1.   Hearing the Christmas story. You know the one — pregnant teenage girl, hasty wedding, weary travellers desperate for a place to stay, the stable, the birth of a baby, singing and dancing shepherds — a real barn-burner. And you know there wouldn’t be a Christmas without a baby.

Photo taken on November 20, 2010


8 thoughts on “men in skirts (and other seasonal attractions)

  1. Loved this post! I really did, and I will come back and read it again, just to be reminded. Over the years I’ve felt like I’m losing that Christmas spirit … Hearing John Lennon’s «So this is Christmas» in Walmart [or some such], the days before Christmas, when all the people are running around there, looking gray in their faces and stressed out … that just brings me DOWN.

    The Santa parade will forever be etched in my memory … associated with Saint John and our moving in here. I watched a bit of it from our balcony this year. What an excellent shot you have there, of the pipes!!!

    • “gray in their faces” — what a good observation, Rebekah. I think a lot of people don’t realize how much of a burden they’re carrying (anxiety, responsibility, hurry) and even if something gets resolved, there’s always something new to carry instead. How is it that Christmas and stress have become synonymous — isn’t a holiday supposed to be relaxing?

      I enjoyed seeing the brightly lit floats in the parade, though I’m still getting used to the fact that it’s not during the daytime anymore. The street lights along the stretch of Main Street where I was standing kept going out, and the marching bands had no lights of their own.

  2. I love pipers. These one have very attractive outfits, and some seem quite young. Did you see Rick get dressed in a kilt at the Celtic Colours Festival? It was interesting to see how the fabric is wrapped.

    • It took me a while (on the internet) to find out who these pipers are. Apparently it’s a cadet corps, which explains whey they look so young. I must have missed seeing Rick and the kilt — I presume this is a post on your blog? I’ve read that it’s one long piece of wool cloth, must be quite a skill to wrap securely!

  3. Rick Mercer a week or two ago, visited the Celtic Colours Festival. It’s on Youtube if you missed it. How to wrap a kilt. I found it very interesting that they say work songs are a strong Celtic tradition. I love to sing while I work.

    • Oh, that Rick! We don’t have a tv, which tends to be a conversation stopper because we’ve never “seen” what everyone else is talking about. But I’ll definitely check this out — sounds intriguing!

    • Wonderful! We’re not fans of Rick Mercer, but we both watched the clip just now, and really enjoyed it. It was great to see the harp and the highland wrap and hear the sharp-witted Mary Jane Lamond’s perfect responses. Thanks for the recommendation!

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