Christmas season shifting into high gear

Typically the American Thanksgiving Weekend signals the start of the holiday season. There were many Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, not to mention new offshoots (Red Thursday) getting shoppers in a spending frame of mind. I would be remiss if I didn’t plug the concept of shopping local and supporting Penticton businesses that give back to the community and help to make it thrive. The City is doing its part by encouraging people to come to Downtown Penticton, offering free parking Saturdays this December.

Last week we had two community toy drives, both reporting tremendous support from the community.  We appreciate the motivation behind the events was to ensure kids would have something under the Christmas tree this year. The traditional Toys for Tots to Teens breakfast organizers announced in September that they were not putting on the event this year, so we are thankful people worked very hard to organize replacement fundraisers. Equally impressive was the community support for both events. There were so many gifts and toys that I believe many families will truly have a special Christmas.

Christmas is very stressful as there are many parties, family reunions and expectation for gifts. The spirit of giving has taken on an entire new meaning because it doesn’t seem to be about a genuine gift from the heart or performing a good deed versus getting the latest gaming platform, tools, sport equipment, or anything Star Wars related as the anticipated gifts. We proclaimed Giving Tuesday today, as a day for citizens to work together and share commitments, build a stronger community and think about others – supporting how giving your time, volunteerism, philanthropy and community service are the best gifts of all.

When it comes to Christmas it is easy to open your heart and wallet to children, but what about the youth, adults and seniors who are less fortunate? We all know someone from work, the neighbourhood, or the community who struggles to keep their head above water. There are many who would benefit from a prepaid coffee card, movie passes, grocery store gift card, etc. In November we recognized Random Act of Kindness Day and encouraged people to “pay it forward,” do random acts of kindness, and incorporate that mindset into your daily routines. Hopefully this Christmas we remind ourselves that it is a special time for family, friends and good will to all.

As mentioned, this season is a time for parties and socials, so please plan your evenings ahead of time and arrange for a ride home or taxi. The police will be out with their Counterattack program implementing random roadside checks. Please be safe this holiday season, please do something to make someone’s season bright, and please take some time to enjoy friends and family.

Photo courtesy Dan Walton, Penticton Western News