It happens every year right about this time. And I, for one, am not complaining.
The pages of our newspapers, The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News, are filled right now with many ‘feel good’ stories about community efforts designed to help those less fortunate. From a Sunday afternoon holiday meal and clothing distribution for the needy in Oakdale to the Shop with a Cop in Riverbank and Escalon’s annual Ministerial Association drive to help families purchase food for the Christmas table, there is an abundance of good stuff going on.
And it seems this year, an abundance of people helping out, contributing more, truly following the mantra of better to give than to receive.
Schools are on holiday break, families are planning special gatherings, Christmas lights are strewn just about everywhere you look. Plus we are getting much-needed rain. I would say our communities have plenty to be pleased about and thankful for this holiday season.
Personally, it was wonderful to see the donations pour in for the variety of drives and the best part is knowing that these efforts aid people right here, in our towns, that need an extra helping hand to make it through.
Professionally, it is virtually impossible to get to every holiday event in all of our communities but the papers of the past couple of weeks, and this week’s issue besides, contain information about some of those notable local efforts to spread the wealth and share the love, so that all our neighbors have some holiday cheer. I was out photographing one event recently – can’t even remember which one – and someone remarked that it must be tiresome to have to go to all these festivities. When I thought about it, I realized that just the opposite proved to be true. Maybe this is the one time of year where we all are a little kinder, a little gentler. Maybe we let someone merge ahead of us on the highway where we would normally lay on the horn. Maybe the mom with two items in her hands and three kids in tow gets to slide ahead of us and our cart full of groceries in the checkout line at the store. Through all the hustle and bustle and holiday stress, we do seem to put the emphasis on being better people.
It’s too bad we can’t carry that spirit with us the remaining 11 months of the year, but at least for a few weeks we remember to be nice to each other.
This past Saturday – less than ONE WEEK before Christmas, mind you – I finally started my shopping. There were a couple of ‘must have’ items on my list and it was early afternoon when I ventured forth to a store where I knew most of those items could be found. Initially, as I wheeled my cart through the too-narrow aisles and listened to parents constantly telling their kids to “put that back, no, you can’t have it” I started to get a little agitated by it all. Why can’t these aisles be wide enough for two carts to pass by? Why did these parents even bring their kids to the store a week before Christmas anyway? But then I remembered that I was the one who chose to wait until there were precious few shopping days left to get the job done and just had to let it go, take a deep breath and embrace the experience. Then I smiled when the parents said ‘no’ because chances are that coveted item is already wrapped and hidden away somewhere, soon to be revealed.
We also had our traditional Christmas luncheon and ‘stealing Santa’ gift exchange recently at work, which is always good for a few laughs, a great meal and some fond memories.
Here’s hoping you have an opportunity to create some lasting memories with your family and loved ones this holiday season as well.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.