Hopefully, the third time's the charm -- for the annual Christmas Parade of Lights.
The Christmas Parade of Lights (an annual event on the James River in Richmond, Virginia) was scheduled for a dramatic day of festivities on December 9. The "Parade of Lights" would feature a lighted boat procession, the VCU Notocords acapella group, a "Big Toy Parade" sponsored by the Battlefield Ruritans, train rides, Christmas-themed games, photos with Santa, and a DJ spinning holiday hits.
Except it never happened.
Then it was rescheduled again.
And now, it's finally taking place.
On July 21, at the James River, you and your loved ones can celebrate the holiday spirit (which is way more immaterial than calendars or clocks, right?) by taking photos with Santa, listening to some DJs play holiday jams, and basking in the Christmas spirit. You and your spouse of seven long, unbearable years can find one brief moment's respite from the exhausting rhythm of life in the vista of technicolor yachts decked in red and green lights disappearing into the bend of the James River -- just like your dreams disappeared six years ago when you took that terrible job and married Mark ... Anywhooooo.
Is it in July? Sure, who cares. Time is a social construct. These brightly lit specters of dreams we all hold onto float on by nonetheless, and it will be a good, memorable time. Or, at least, you tell yourself that as you decide to spend an evening doing a wholesome thing in hopes that its general aura of wholesomeness will manifest into some kind of meaning, for anyone, for once.
Take a picture with Santa, little Karen. No, you're not getting presents. Life is your present now.
Enjoy the celebration.
And it might be burning-hot July, but we need it.
And humanity is dreadful a lot of the time, you know? The news is sad. Our jobs are sad. The outlook of justice and progress is sad.
But humans have made an art out of figuring out ways to not be sad. That is actually how holidays were invented, you know. And so we'll do Christmas in July if we want to. Because not rain nor snow will stop us.
Humans want to find reasons to be happy.
And for all the horrible things we do in this world, there is something infinitely lovely about that. Whatever goes wrong, no matter the state of affairs, we will find a reason to assemble in groups together and look at flashing lights at night. And we'll see, in those lights, the thing we don't know we have. We'll see our own human capacity to live, to persist, and to find reasons to be happy, no matter how small. It is so beautiful how badly, how persistently we want to feel -- how, so often, against all odds -- humans always find reasons to be happy.
So Saturday, July 21 on the James River is Christmas. If you need it to be.
Because neither rain, snow, winter blizzards, nor national angst can stop us from the simple, uncontestable beauty of believing in an impossible kind of magic -- the magic we all feel as we watch sparkling fluorescent stars sing against the backdrop of ordinary life, shocking an extraordinary pulse into calm, quiet, empty black nights.
That is, in essence, humanity.
At 6 p.m. on Saturday the 21st at Ancarrow's Landing, you can experience the James River Parade of Lights. Is it literally halfway to next Christmas? Sure. But blizzards won't get us down.
There's one thing that can be said about human beings and Christmas. Come hell or high water -- come Armageddon, itself -- fine. We will reschedule.
So on Saturday, July 21, tell your loved ones Merry Christmas.
And you tell them, "Sure, of course it's Christmas."
Because we said so, that's why.