the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Christmas Parade

December has been a social month.  I met up with Doobleh-vay at her New York hotel, Jen Lee at the Moth Storytelling Slam, attended the BlogHer NY Holiday party, and lived it up at the NY book launch party of Kirtsy Takes a Bow: A Celebration of Women’s Online Favorites.


The Kirtsy book contains great writing and photography from female bloggers, many who you might know from being online.   For some reason, one of my tweets is included,in this woman’s book, bringing me one step closer to that sex change operation.


At the party, someone asked me if I write a sex blog, or if I am just obsessed about breasts.  I didn’t get too many phone numbers that night.

After all the festivities, I woke up early on Friday morning for the big topper event — I was taking a train for a weekend in Virginia, visiting V-grrrl and her family.

(photo of V-grrrl by Di Mackey)

V-grrrl is one of my long-time blogging friends, although I have never met her in real life, mostly because, until last year, she lived in Belgium.

She also send me the most important piece of European art work that I own, back in 2006, after she read one of my ground-breaking posts about boys peeing in Norway.


V-grrrl is also the very first person to be interviewed — by me — in the first Great Interview Experiment.

V-grrrl and her husband live in a beautiful home practically sitting in a forest (with a lot of Revolutionary and Civil War history).  In her backyard, all sorts of exotic birds fly to her feeder.

“That’s a real oriole!” I screamed, looking on my “Birdwatching” iphone app that I downloaded when it was on sale at $2.99!  I pressed a button on the iphone and showed off the bird sounds to V-grrrl’s kids.  They were not impressed, since they had iphones themselves.  In fact, a good part of the afternoon was spend sharing iPhone apps with V-grrrl’s twelve year old son.  I have a feeling modern technology makes us all the same age — teenagers.

V-grrrl’s kids are super-brainy.  Have you ever heard of this school competition program called O.P.?    O.P. kids compete against each other building miniature airplanes, and then devise the flight plans, as if they were air traffic controllers.  They explained it to me, but I didn’t really understand.  I’m more about the peeing in Norway than engineering feats.

The big event of the weekend was the town’s 40th annual Christmas Parade.  I was excited to see the charm of this small-town tradition. And then it SNOWED.  And SNOWED.  A nearby town, which was also having a parade that day, cancelled their event, but V-grrrl’s town, wanting to prove that they were not a bunch of Yankee wimps, said “The Show Must Go On.”


V-grrrl’s family and I dressed in our long underwear and overcoats, and headed out to the parade route, V-grrrl’s husband carefully driving on the icy road.  The crowd on Main Street was surprisingly large for the inclement weather, but some youth group was selling hot cocoa, keeping us warm.

The first half hour, waiting for the parade to start, was magical.  The lights, the snow, the old fashioned bookstores and ice cream parlors on Main Street, the church steeple in the background, the pub where George Washington once slept, and the gentle small town faces made this scene as American as any Norman Rockwell painting.

Then, the parade started, and no offense to V-grrrl, her family, or her town, but that was the WORST parade I have ever seen.

Parents were smartly wary about sending their children marching in the snow, so half of the marching bands never showed up.  One determined high school band consisted of three people — one tuba, one drum, and a cheerleader dressed in a wool coat that prevented her from doing any of the dance moves.

In the past, the highlight of the parade was the tradition of those on the floats throwing candy out at the crowd.  V-grrrl’s kids told me of how they would come home with more booty than Halloween.   Sadly, fear of Johnny Cochran-type legal action has now taken hold in small town America.  The city banned the candy throwing — just in case some child was hit in the head with a poorly-aimed Smarties package, and the city was sued!   What a downer.   You could see it on the kids’ faces.   There was no joy in Whoville that evening.   Thank you, legal Grinches.

But that’s not all!

After the last float passed by (something about Jesus, sponsored by a hardware chain), everyone waited for the real meaning of Christmas — the ho ho ho man himself.  The crowd stood there, shivering in both the freezing cold and anticipation, waiting for the grand entrance.

Santa Claus never showed.

It was too cold and snowy, so Santa decided to just STAY HOME and watch videos!

It was truly a bad parade, and we all knew it.   Of course, that is when the fun began.  On the way home, we all devised funny editorials to the local newspaper decrying the “Santa” outrage, the best title to the editorial being, “No, Virginia, There is No Santa.”

Luckily, V-grrrl’s daughter baked a cheesecake for us to eat when we got home.

The next day, when the newspaper came out, there was a glowing review of the parade (I think they were one of the sponsors).   At the end of the article, the journalist wrote, “And lastly, Santa entertained the children, although he showed up late.”

Bullsh*t, I say!  We were there.  Santa did not show up at all.

As I took the Amtrak back to New York the next day, I thought about small towns and big cities.  Was there really that much of a difference?  We both watch the same TV shows.  We both own iphones with bird-watching apps.  And most importantly, we both have media operations that LIE TO US ABOUT SANTA!

Thanks for the great weekend, V-grrrl!

Note: The Fourth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert is THIS THURSDAY.   Please email me files or links by Wednesday at the latest!


  1. Cheryl

    Sounds like you had fun Neil. Yay for meeting internet/twitter/blogger buddies IRL!

    Booooo to the Legal Grinches though. Those effing bastards ruin everything.

  2. Kellee

    Well that sounds truly hilarious. I sometimes think total disasters end up being the most entertaining. I also have nothing but respect for the poor band that carried on with three people.

    I would also like to say that your continued appreciate of “great writing” has inspired me to.. well.. actually write on my blog. I’m more into the photography than the writing, but I thought I would attempt to stretch those muscles and expose my overly-shielded self a little. So, thank you for being part of the inspiration. 🙂

  3. wench

    How timely – I remember reading V-grrrl’s blog when she was getting ready to move to the States so it’s wonderful to know that she is comfortably esconced in smalltownville. Having grown up all over Canada – but always going home to Swan River for vacations I truly appreciate the hominess of small towns. Couldn’t live there though, a week or two and I’m buggy. Need that influx of totallycrazy sidewalk marauders found in the bigcity.

    BTW someone should find that bisbegotten assistant to Santa and show him what happens when they go on the naughty list.

  4. Quadelle

    I love the band of three, and what a fabulous combo!

  5. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    LMAO! Great capture of the weekend.

    It was great to have you visit Smallville. My latest theory is that Santa was detained by a rogue band of fundamentalist Christians who accused of him stealing Christmas. That rumor about him being at an AA meeting to deal with eggnog and brandy addiction sounded like PR spin to soften the fact that it was well known he “fell off the big red sleigh” so to speak with his drinking problem and the elves were seen trying to sober him up with coffee at the Starbucks. And what about the GOP’s take, telling us all that this was further proof Obama’s economic stimulus program was failing–Santa, the ultimate symbol of American production and consumerism, was curtailing appearances and cutting back on non-essential travel. Or maybe the reindeer were grounded by global warning fears due to “gas issues.” Virginia needs more carbon credits.

    I’m glad you were here to share the joy, the cheesecake, and the brainy kids. The Boy would like you to know he is FOURTEEN, cause when you’re 14 being called 12 is an insult to your manhood.

  6. Chris

    You’ve been busy! Thanks for sharing stories from your weekend at V-GRRRL’s. The parade details are funny, funny. Sounds like you had a great time. Neat!

  7. Danny

    I want to visit V-GRRRL–her small town sounds like Andy Hardy’s Carvel (reference that few of your young readers will get) and her family sounds too cool. You should pull a Jane Devin and spend a year traveling the country visiting your blogging friends. Except yours would all be attractive women, you dog, you!

  8. V-Grrrl

    Come on over Danny! We need someone to sing show tunes. : )

  9. Isabel @AlphaMom

    Neil, that was a great story.

  10. Tara Bradford

    Your tales of the weekend made me smile. I have heard a thing or two about V-GRRRL from our mutual friend Di Mackey. 🙂

  11. Introspectre

    You must have been west of here, we saw not a speck of snow.
    No fat guy in red, either.

    What kind of drunken monkey doesn’t show up for a Christmas parade? And what drunken monkey newspaper writes it’s own reality? (Oh, right…)

    Glad there was hot chocolate there and cheesecake back home. Christmas was saved, hurrah V-GRRRL!

  12. Fran

    Wait…you went out in a blizzard to the parade wearing *only* longjohns and overcoats? I’m hoping you skipped some of the finer details in this one: “V-grrrl’s family and I dressed in our long underwear and overcoats, and headed out to the parade route”

    Thanks, as always, for your entertaining recap of events this southern girl will only dream of.

    • Jean

      Gracias por compartir historias que me encantan porque son muy divertidas aunque yo le tenga miedo al frio me encantan estas hostorias y si leo este blog

  13. dolly

    Todo se ve muy bonito pero yo siempre tengo frio aunque me gustan estas historias

  14. Tere

    Me encantaron las historias de fin de semana, sigan escribiendo

  15. Pantalon

    que maravilloso seria poder ver una tormenta de nieve, porque en méxico en donde yo vivo eso no se ve, espero algun dia poder disfrutar asi como ustedes de una

  16. Barato

    Nice article.
    Happy to see your blog as it is just what I’ve looking for and excited to read all the posts.

  17. Leche de Alpiste

    ¡ I love the band of three, and what a fabulous combo!

  18. Jeans

    Cada año es gratificante que llegue la navidad tiempo de alegrarnos y conmemorar todos los acontecimientos de esta epoca, gracias por estas historias.

  19. Manolo

    esta historia me remonto a los años de estudiante en donde disfrutaba de los desfoles aunque fueran tres los musicos malos y desafinados pero los desfiles eran una fiesta sobre todos por ver los personajes con pantalones de multicolores y de muchos diseños

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial