Last night, I experienced another of those events that I think really only happens in smaller towns. They're becoming less surprising the longer I live here, but they still crop up from time to time. Last night was parents' night at my elder son's basketball game. We were all given a glittery paper star to pin to our shirt with our child's name and uniform number and wore them proudly. Between the JV and varsity games we were all introduced over the PA system and came foreward to receive our due for raising such wonderful children in the form of an embarassed hug from the aforementioned offspring. The senior boys gave a rose to their mothers and a manly handshake to the dads. It was corny as you can imagine but really quite sweet.
A few of the other events I've participated in since moving from a big city to small town:
Community wide pancake breakfasts/spaghetti dinners to help a local family with medical bills, usually attended by one and all.
Christmas (yes, we still call them Christmas concerts) concerts that are standing room only. At the end, the whole place sings a few old standard carols (Silent Night, et al...).
High School Graduations when I don't have a relative actually graduating.
Wedding dances that are open to the general public and you're not even required to know the bride, groom or their families.
A gathering of people to get a neighbor's crop out because he has fallen ill.
A cake walk and pie auction that raised over $6000 for an ill child. Single pies selling for over $200.
Tball and little league baseball games that are as well attended as state championship games.
Sporting events where the opposing teams fans are nearly all related in one way or another.
These are things I didn't know existed until I became a parent of kids in a small town. Maybe these aren't exclusive to small towns, maybe I just didn't see them until I had kids, but they are remarkable events. The high attendance may have something to do with the lack of other distractions around here, especially in the winter when we tend to hunker down and ride it out. I love that the local gas station will put a jar out for people to drop their spare change into for a sick kid and no one ever questions that the money will go where it says it's going. It may not seem like much, the breakfasts and dinners and bake sales, but I think it's a chance for everyone in town to feel like they did something to help out. There are only so many hot dishes a family can put in the freezer and a limited number of bouquets they can receive and asking for cold hard cash seems a bit mercenary in a time of crisis.