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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, they say. But with the wonderful comes some not-so-wonderful that we’d rather see go away.
First the wonderful:
There have been plenty of Santa Claus arrivals and municipal celebrations that seem to light up the eyes of little children.
One particularly touching scene was the children of West Grove gathering around Santa and Mrs. Santa after the two had disembarked from a fire truck in the center of town.
Santa responded in kind by greeting them on the street, taking their hands and leading them into the library, where he heard their gift requests for the holidays.
Another very nice aspect of the season was watching the Avon Grove Library open its doors to the celebration. Not only did it provide a comfortable room for children to talk with Santa, but its workers and volunteers gave out food and gifts, while offering the opportunity for kids to make crafts at tables in the reading room.
Another wonderful aspect of the season was the meeting of elderly women at the Oxford Area Senior Center discussing their memories of Christmases past. The interesting part was that although they all admitted to having lived in either poverty or very spare circumstances, they all viewed the holiday season as a time of being with family and appreciating their blessings.
One idea that came out of that meeting earlier in the month was their appreciation of getting one or two gifts.
They liked the special foods of the season and they never forgot the charm of late evening church services.
Over at the Avon Grove Intermediate School, the PTAs of that school and its partner, Penn London Elementary, held a craft sale that attracted what appeared to be several thousand customers.
The thing that was so interesting and encouraging was not that it was crowded, but that so many people were eager to buy gifts that were handmade.
In a year when we have seen people abandon hand-written cards in favor of e-mail, the Girls Scouts plan to divest Camp Tweedale (where kids learned earthy crafts), the needlework competition at the Unionville Community Fair diminish to near nothing and store-bought pies replacing grandma’s, it is heartening to see that folks still place a premium on things that are made by hand.
On the other side of the coin, there are some aspects of Christmas that we could do without.
One of them is Black Friday.
Is there really any reason why people must arise early, push and shove, and even get in fights so they can spend money on electronic devices?
And is anyone else tired of those never-ending Christmas cartoons that have talking animals and squeaky-voiced half-human creatures getting in predicaments surrounding the holidays?
And while we would like to say that we love the parades and large-scale municipal celebrations, but there seems to be a lot of high-pressure commercialism thrown into that mix. One cannot help but conclude that the message here is to spend as much money as possible in the month of December.
Yes, Christmas is the best time of the year. But the pressure to spend money, the pushing and shoving at the stores and the unending string of eating events can send us into a gluttonous extreme that really excludes the spirit.
We would do well to hang back a little from the shopping, appreciate the family and craft a few things by hand to regain what Christmas is all about.