Being seen through the eyes of a child has its advantages

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, December 6, 2012

I don’t think I ever really wanted to be a real life Disney princess – until Monday night’s Christmas parade in Troy.

The Messenger staff had a small entry in the parade. We turned the back of my husband’s truck into a sort of makeshift, larger-than-life toy box filled with staff members dressed as life-sized toys. Circulation Manager Tasha Tice was clad in authentic Army camo and a WWII-era helmet as a toy soldier. Creative Editor Katherine Johnson donned tights with sparkly stars and a brightly-colored cropped sweater with her hair pulled to the side in a scrunchy to depict an 80s rocker Barbie. Classified Ad Representative Rachel Ward Hicks dressed as a cowboy and her 1-year-old daughter, Britton, was the cutest cow ever.

I pulled a yellow-gold ball gown with a skirt full of pick-ups out of the closet. (It was from Halloween 2011 when the hubby and I dressed as Beauty and the Beast. I didn’t just have a yellow ball gown in storage for no reason.) Like most ladies, I like to be fancy now and then and was happy to put on the dress and jewels.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

As we rode down the parade route, we heard children cheer. “Mommy, look at the girl that looks like a doll!” “Ooooh, a G.I. Joe!” “There’s a little cow!”

But the exclamation that warmed my heart the most happened after the parade was over.

I was on my way to find a co-worker on the Square when I heard a squeal. I felt the little girl before I saw her. Her arms wrapped tightly around my leg. She must have been no more than 5.

“I told you Belle was real, Mama! I told you! I told you!”

Her mother and I exchanged glances before I quickly dropped eye-level with the little blonde lady and asked her name and if she was ready for Christmas. Her green eyes were huge with delight. She hugged me again and I stood, back on my mission to find my co-worker.

There were five more little girls waiting to meet Belle behind me. We laughed and hugged and mothers took photos. When I made it to the middle of the Square, the scene replayed a couple of times.

At one point, a small boy tugged at my dress.

“Ms. Belle. Ms. Belle, I wub you,” he said. “Oh, my! That is very sweet of you to say. I love you, too,” I replied to him.

“Ms. Belle. I have been good this year and told Santa.” Then he whispered, “Could you tell Santa that, too, that I’ve been good?”

Of course. Why wouldn’t a Disney princess be friends with a jolly old elf?

By the time the evening was over, my heart was full. After Thanksgiving, I had put up the tree, baked cookies and shopped for presents, but I wasn’t in the Christmas spirit until I had spent time with children who believed anything was possible.

The children didn’t see me in Belle’s dress. They saw a princess and truly were excited that Belle had come to visit Troy. They were ecstatic that Santa came personally to the parade. I can’t remember when I last experienced that sort of pure, innocent excitement.

But, I thank the children at the Christmas parade for sharing their joy and spirit with Belle. It will always be a very special memory for me during future Christmastimes.