The Credit Union Christmas Pageant. The largest Christmas pageant in the world. I caught the bus into the city with my family, an hour beforehand so that we had a chance of actually seeing the floats.
We lay out our picnic blanket by the side of the road, and start putting on sunscreen. The previous year, it was hot and sunny, and I had to lather myself in sunscreen. This year, the clouds covered the sun, like a child covering her eyes in a game of peek-a-boo; and the cool breeze tugged on the purple balloons that all the kids held.
My sister stared longingly. I wish that I was her age, seeing as there is a massive age difference between us, I often have to go off and do stuff with her that my parents don’t really want to do.
My dad saw what my sister wanted, and told me to get a balloon for her. I sighed and took up her hand, leading her to the entrance of Adelaide Arcade, to the crowd waiting for balloons. There were about 30 of them, all adults packed together over a 3 by 3 metre space. A volunteer comes out the door to our left with a hand full of balloons. In seconds, the balloons are gone, snatched away by grabbing hands.
I just hang back, I’ve never been very good at being assertive in crowds. For five minutes, I stand there, on the outer edges of the group just waiting in hope that a balloon will just be passed to me, but this doesn’t happen.
I start pushing towards the front, gently but confidently; my hand still gripping my sister’s. People push against us, trying to get to the front.
I’m in the middle of the group, just two layers of people in front of me. A volunteer comes out of the door again with a hand full of balloons. A woman in a blue shirt rushes forward, pushing people aside, grabbing the balloons, ripping them out of people’s hands. She strides off, four or five balloons in her grip. Everyone sort of blinks in surprise. She was so violent; and for some balloons? What are we? five?
As people get their balloons, gaps in the crowd form, but they are quickly filled, like water running into cracks.
I push forward again, finally getting to the front. I get my two balloons, because if I’m going to wait for a balloon, I might as well get one for myself. I walk away, dragging my sister behind me. I get back to our picnic blanket, my dad looking up from his phone as I sit down. “Where were you? I called you three times!” he asks. I just stared at him. “Why did it take so long?” He asks, trying to get any information out of me as to why it took me half an hour to get two balloons.
I just shake my head and say, “Don’t say you want a balloon, because I’m not going back there; it’s like The Hunger Games, So much pushing and grabbing, all for a few free balloons.”
Christmas: This is what it has turned into.