"Let's pick an evening and go downtown to see the Christmas tree," my father said. I smiled when he said that because he sounded so much like my grandmother, who always loved to go downtown at Christmas time. When I was a kid, she used to take my siblings and me on a shopping trip downtown every December. In those days, the big department stores used to have windows filled with holiday decorations.
So tonight I drove my parents into Snowstorm City. Little trees along the sidewalks were wrapped in white lights, and some of the brick buildings were decorated with red and green lights shaped like poinsettas. The big tree stood near the skating rink, where about a dozen folks skated in a circle. Many of the skaters seemed to be struggling just to stay upright, but they were having fun despite their lack of expertise. Two little girls clinging to the railing were laughing even as they kept falling.
We walked around to admire the decorations, and we stopped at a craft store whose front window was filled with blown-glass balls hanging from the ceiling with ribbons. The woman behind the counter overheard me telling my mother the story of what Shaggy Hair Boy had gotten his girlfriend for her birthday, and she chimed into the conversation to say, "Oh, he's soooo sweet." We browsed through crafts made by local artists, ate some cookies from the plate set out near the window, and then walked back out into the night air.