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Surprise parades and the stuff that gets us through

Holly Spangler Jim Lock and Jenna Spangler in yellow Mustang convertible
WAVING: Jim Lock makes good on his promise to drive Jenna in his convertible. Her dress even matches the car, as if we’d planned it.
What is it when a friend shows up for your kid — unannounced, with the very best surprise? Answer: the very best of the pandemic.

We pulled into the church parking lot one Sunday morning this fall and one of the kids called out, “Hey, Jim and Sally brought the convertible!” And we laughed and thought they must have been breaking out the convertible for one last drive before the weather turned. 

Turns out, Jim had a plan.

For years, our dear friend and fellow farmer Jim Lock had told our daughter Jenna that when she was a senior and if she was on the Homecoming court, he’d drive her in the parade in his yellow Mustang convertible. They’d joked about it for years. Of course, this year there was no Homecoming and no court and no parade. So Jim brought the Mustang to church that morning, with a big surprise.

“Hop in!” he told Jenna. “We can’t be in the Homecoming parade, so we’re gonna have our own parade!”

We laughed so hard (and I cried a little) and Jenna hopped in. They took off and made a slow pass around the parking lots at our little country church, stopping to chat with people as they walked in. They drove down to the blacktop and back, and Jenna waved and everyone waved back, and they all laughed.

And from that yellow convertible on that beautiful fall day, Jenna and Jim could not have smiled any wider.

Holly SpanglerJenna Spangler and Jim Lock

HELPER: This is love: a surprise parade on a Sunday morning, because someone saw what you missed out on.

Friends, this is the thing. If anything gets us through hard days, it’s this: People showing up for each other when they absolutely don’t have to. It’s Mr. Rogers’ advice when things are hard and scary: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

It’s a surprise parade on a Sunday morning, because someone saw what you missed out on. It’s someone seeing you. It’s someone caring.

What can you do for someone else right now? How can you help? Because what I know is this: As long as there are Jim Locks in the world — and as long as we’re helping each other — we’ll all be OK. 

From our family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas! No matter how it looks this year!

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