Winter holidays, Santa, Christmas and the Season of Giving

Winter has settled in. Santa Claus continues making frequent appearances around town.
It was sweet to watch a light dusting of snow come down Sunday morning again this week especially nice since the white stuff was not attaching itself to the roads.
The cold crisp air contributes to a cozy mood for the upcoming holidays cozy, that is, if you are inside by the fire.
There are a lot of holidays in December. Along with Christmas, my calendar shows Hanukkah last week, Virgin of Guadalupe on Dec. 12, Eid al Adha, a Moslem holiday, on Dec. 20, and the African-American winter holiday, Kwanzaa which starts on the day after Christmas and runs through New Years. And there is also the English Boxing Day.
They all circle around the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.
Christmas is, of course, a celebration of the birth of Christ, but its interesting to consider why so many cultures plan festivals at this, the darkest time of the year. I believe that we all relate to the promise that the sun will soon start heading back this way. Maybe even more so because it is awfully dark and we need to do something festive to get through the long dark days.
In India, Deepavali is literally the Festival of Lights. Hanukkah is referred to by some as the Feast of Lights. Christmas also brings extra light, with the lighted Christmas tree, lights strung around the house and on all the shrubs in the yard for those who can afford it. Candles on the dinner table are essential at my house at this time of year.
Lights are important in the celebration and next is the giving of gifts.
Christmas gets a bad rap sometimes, about being too mercenary: Its no secret that retail businesses make the bulk of their annual income during this season. Its unfortunate and makes the holiday seem a bit capitalistic.
On the other hand, the idea of giving gifts to the ones you love makes good sense. It provides an opportunity to get to know the person better. It forces you to think about what he or she cares about. Maybe some of us do get carried away and overdo it in the effort to make the kids happy. There is some unnecessary stress around finding the perfect gift.
But another side of the Season of Giving, that is pervasive around north Snohomish County, is very nice, albeit a bit sad.
Many organizations are going above and beyond in the effort to provide gifts for the less advantaged families in the region. The cities of Arlington and Marysville and partners collect food for the food banks at nearly every public event. Arlingtons staff sent bundles of goods and money to Kids Kloset. The Arlington Fire Department escorts Santa around while collecting donations of food. Marysville fire fighters also collect donations for the food bank. Grocery stores and banks host giving trees. The Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce has adopted a family in need. Boy Scouts Troop No. 92 is gathering food for the food bank. The Arlington Curves is sending packages to Iraq, and so on. There are too many good deeds to list here.
The important thing is that we are recognizing that we live in a bigger and more diverse world these days. The audience is of many colors and beliefs, and Christmas seems to be adapting to the changes. The haves are stepping up to the plate to help take care of the have-nots as it should be.


To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board Kris Passey or Scott Frank e-mail forum@premier1.net.

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