Seems I’ve been a witness to the last 10 Batavia High School homecoming parades. Whoa! Has it really been that many?
And what is "homecoming," anyway? This time of celebration, of returning home, of pride in our home team, school and town is so soothing and energizing. Rituals like this one remind us that we belong — to something greater than ourselves alone — and reassure us that life goes on. We will go on. That we have roots that bind us, much deeper and stronger than the chaos that threatens to blind us. Yes, yes indeed. Recently we’ve weathered news from Texas, Puerto Rico, and now Vegas, and sustained our own losses, too, but come home to each other we must.
Besides, there’s the candy.
This year, after they selected several bags of sweet stuff for tossing, I dropped Holly and her BFF near the parade’s start then returned home to let the dog out, feed the cat, pull out my beach chair and walk with my neighbor to our usual parade-watching spot at the corner.
I slipped off my shoes, bare feet in cool grass. Greeted other neighbors as they arrived, caught up on others’ news, and together we waited. For the soul-stirring sounds of the police vehicle as it heralded the parade of our children through the center of town, for the inevitable goosebumps salute as the school band marched past. And the athletic teams, and the clubs, and the homecoming court, too.
This never gets old, no way. This marking of time, the relishing with pride the growth of other people’s children, not just my own. Of our neighbor, Miss Rachel, these days able to expertly tumble on the blacktop. Wow! And of Holly’s former classmate, Jill, with her swim team proudly displaying a poster proclaiming “No pool, no problem.” That’s the spirit! Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Of lovely Hope, one of Holly’s earliest soccer buddies, who now rides the tennis team’s float, and, yes, of my dear daughter, too, who marched alongside other Key Clubbers as they tossed candy at eager kids lining the parade route. I remember when she and her brother brought bags to these parades, hope large in their hearts. Those were the days! I like being reminded. Yes, rituals reassure. They’re incredibly soothing. Imagine what they do for our children? They make the going on in "life goes on" more possible, I think. More meaningful. What’s it all for, if we don’t?
As for me, it’s a good thing I relish such rituals, because I didn’t score much candy this year. Nope, I just couldn’t bring myself to grab the Tootsie Roll a nearby kid scrambled for. Phooey. One banana Laffy Taffy is all I got, this time, and everyone knows they’re lame.
“Great tradition,” Holly said, as we reflected on this year’s parade. I’ll say. I’m a big fan, too, of our after-the-homecoming-dance tradition of heading to DQ after Holly and her friends pile into my car. Really, it’s just a ruse to get ice cream. Yeah, I’m game.
Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.