Outward displays of glistening, perfect, commercial beauty is easy to find this time of year. Finding the true heart and soul of holiday spirit proves to be a little harder. I was delighted to unexpectedly discover it a couple nights ago.
Friday night was Emlenton’s Light-Up night. We walked to Main Street from our house under a sky filled with sparkling stars with our neighbors, Ron and Donna Louise, to reach the majestic pine planted so many years ago. We went for the kids and ended up receiving our own dose of Christmas Spirit. Colored lights were hung and awaiting Santa’s arrival by fire truck. The modest crowd gathered around the tree and an impromptu chorus of Christmas carols broke out. A moment of silence was suggested for Paris and San Bernardino. The sweet voices of young and young-at-heart surely lifted even the darkest of moods. You could feel the goodness in the hearts of all the gentle souls who stood together that December night. Afterward, all were invited to the town firehall for ornament making, pictures with Santa Claus, a magician, hot chocolate and cookies, and almost-extinct small town community bonding.
This is the kind of town where you know your neighbors. The kids play outside until well after dark and residents still take time to talk when passing by. Community churches welcome regular, peaceful congregations. The seasonal events are simple and lack trendy, commercial appeal or crowds and that’s just fine by me. To catch a glimpse of pure joy in the kids’ eyes as they hunt for Easter eggs at Hughes Park, strut around the block in Halloween costumes, wave American flags during the parade of fire trucks on Independence Day, or catch that first sighting of the best Santa Claus you will find (the general consensus is he’s the real deal) is priceless and captures what authentic living in America is all about. Not the America shown on television or movies. Why would anyone want to keep up with that Hollywood standard? Nor is it a downtrodden America our own media goes out of its way to portray.
Lately, we as a global society have been bombarded by bad news. Add that to the season’s silly societal pressures to spend, spend, spend, and rush, rush, rush, to buy so-called perfect gifts, it is enough to make Scrooges of any of us. At some point we all succumb to the distractions. Shame on us. This should be a time of quiet reflection and devoid of stress. If not, there’s a good chance it’s our own fault.
The bad news has always been there and always will be in some form. If you’re watching it non-stop, you’re making yourself crazy. Turn off the television and laptop. The focus on merchandise has reached epic proportions. Take control of the season’s pressures and celebrate December the way you decide. Grinches abound – protect your happiness by ignoring them.
Let’s do ourselves a favor and find the simple joy and peace in our own little part of the world. It will be the best present we ever give or receive. Set aside time (not money) to help lift the spirits of those who have been saddled with bigger burdens. The real magic will occur when we are able to hold onto that peace throughout the year.
Merry Christmas AND Happy Holidays!
Lights Adorn the Way As We Take a Silent Night Stroll Back Home.