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Tradition’s something to parade around

The Dixie Diva column

If Tink had any hesitation about coming into a traditional Southern family, there was only one: our happy, colorful Easter parade. The one we have every year — rain or shine — when we return to Louise’s and Rodney’s house after church and before the ridiculously big meal we have.

Tink likes parades, but not ones that call for his participation. He’s reserved and firmly believes that his place is behind the camera, whether the camera is in Hollywood or Georgia. I love parades whether I view them from the sidelines or as a participant. Whenever a parade comes to town, I always think of my friend, Margie. Whatever she’s doing, she lays it aside and hurries down to grab a spot on the route.

“The way I see it,” she says with a firm nod of her head, “is that life’s too short to miss a parade.” A mighty good philosophy, if you ask me.

When there’s a parade to be seen from the sidewalk, Tink happily goes along. When it is suggested that he participate, he balks. At the Christmas parade the year before we married, I declared merrily, “Next year, we’ll have a float in the parade.”

He set his jaw. “No. You will have a float. I will not be participating. But I’ll cheer you on from the sidelines.” He smiled. “I’ll drive the truck and pull the float.”

I believe our little town’s Christmas parade needs us. It needs the kind of float we could enter and fill with kids and family, but Tink won’t budge. He won’t even pretend to consider it. For a year, I talked sporadically about the Christmas parade, certain I could talk him into it. After all, I talked him into the Easter parade.

That wasn’t easy. In fact, I did what I have done on only one or two occasions: I put my foot down. Almost without exception, if we disagree on something, I let his word be the final word, even if I am forced into a bit of a pout over it. I respect him as the head of our house and believe he deserves that. The Easter parade, though, is 30 years of tradition — a special family tradition and, for the majority of those years, I have walked the parade route alone. I was determined that since I finally had a husband, he was going to join me.

Now, to be honest, in the grand scheme of Easter parades, it isn’t much. We each walk out the front door, cross the porch, down the steps, and cross the sidewalk to wave at the camera. It is a “parade” of spring pastels, hats, big smiles, and Easter baskets. It is a video recounting of a happy day spent with family as it hints of the delicious days ahead that will be filled with bathing suits, barbecues, shorts, and laughing children. In those 30 years of video footage, we are sweetly reminded of those like Mama — who enjoyed the parade most of all — who celebrate Easter in the most precious place of all.

Last Easter, Tink saw the determined glint in my eye. He heard the rare tone in my voice when I said, “Yes, you are going to be in the parade.” And so he was. He cleared his throat, took a deep breath, and stepped out into the sunshine and into camera range. It lasted 15 seconds, no doubt the most uncomfortable 15 seconds of his life. When it was over, he relaxed and laughed with joy as he watched the remainder of the parade.

But we had a surprise for him.

At the end of the parade, two of the kids emerged carrying big signs that Selena had made. Nix’s sign said: “Executive Producer” followed by Tripp’s sign that said, “John Tinker.” I doubled over with laughter as Tink’s face flushed deep red.

Now, the Easter parade with Tink is a given. But the Christmas parade? Well, I’m still working on that.

Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “There’s A Better Day A-Comin’.” Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter.