It’s pretty standard fare for this time of year – festive gatherings, toy giveaways, adopt-a-(fill in the blank)-for-the-holidays – all throughout the Central Valley there are efforts to help make sure everyone has some joy and a reason to smile.
Amazingly, Christmas is literally just around the corner and over the past couple of weeks our papers have been filled with photos and stories surrounding the holiday season. That’s to be expected but what I find this year, seemingly more than ever before, is the willingness of people to step up and help.
Maybe it is because some have found themselves with more to give and have no trouble spreading the wealth. Or maybe we are finally starting to figure out that there’s probably enough to go around, we just have to distribute it a little more evenly.
Plus there are multiple ways to help out. Just among our Oakdale, Riverbank, Escalon and surrounding areas, you could donate some canned goods and non-perishable food items to a local food pantry, drop unwrapped toys in the various Toys for Tots or local Toy Drive barrels and boxes, the Salvation Army red kettle drive is on, there were plenty of ‘Angel Tree’ opportunities to adopt kids in need and, in Riverbank’s case, adopting grandparents who might not otherwise have a gift to open for the holidays.
Our office in Oakdale, home base for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times, hosted one of the many Angel Trees that were spread out among local businesses throughout the Oakdale area. Just judging from the response we got, with family, friends, employees and newspaper subscribers willing to ‘adopt’ a child or two, I have to think many kids are going to have an abundant holiday. Gifts were scattered throughout our front lobby area and it made me smile to think that other businesses in town were likely in the same position, having to sidestep the donations of holiday joy.
Food and gift distributions are planned or have already been conducted in Riverbank and Escalon as well, adding to the holiday spirit.
It’s a shame we don’t have this giving mindset during more of the year – but at least the holiday outpouring is a start. Maybe someday it will become second nature to share with those less fortunate.
Hopefully you also have time to share a visit with family, near or far, during the holidays. We’ll have to settle for a phone call to New York this year but will have plenty of local friends and family to drop in on.
Shopping? Mostly finished but a few last minute items to get checked off the list before I can officially be ‘done’ and then, of course, what seems like endless hours of wrapping.
At least the packages got sent off to the East Coast before the busiest day of the year for mail carriers, Dec. 18; I was able to power wrap early Saturday morning and get them sent on their way so they will arrive in plenty of time to make it under the tree.
Take some time to slow down, put on the Christmas music (yes, I know, not a favorite of many people but it really can be a source of soothing calmness as long as Grandma doesn’t get run over by a reindeer) and maybe take a leisurely drive around the community to view the color and variety of your neighbors’ holiday light displays. More homes on our street are lit up for the season and there are plenty of yard art groupings to enjoy as well – including some that always startle the dog when we are out for a walk. We probably have the only dog in the 209 that barks at Baby Jesus lying in the manger and cowers in fear when the inflatable Frosty the Snowman catches a gust of wind.
Whatever your holiday plans, here’s hoping they go off without a hitch and you get to enjoy the season with those you love.
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.