Musings for the Holidays

When I’m planning the story lineup and making assignments for the November/December issue of Tallahassee Magazine, the holidays are front-and-center in my thoughts -— even if it is August.

Being a bit ADD, I’m not really capable of sitting down at my desk and filling all the blanks with stories in one sitting. Rather, I tend to cogitate on things over a period of time, with much of my best thinking done in that five or 10 minutes before I drop off to sleep at night. 

Here are a few thoughts that crossed my mind before I slipped into the arms of Morpheus:

  • My family is in the midst of planning a rendezvous in Orlando during the Thanksgiving weekend. We’re kind of caught up in the “What theme park should we go to?” and “How are we going to cook the turkey in a hotel?” phase right now. Frankly, I don’t much care how all that turns out; I’m just going to be so thankful if all 14 of us are in the same place at the same time. With children growing up and moving on and a 79-year-old mother, who knows how many more opportunities like this we will have?
  • I certainly understand that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” but why begrudge the greetings of people who wish you “Happy Holidays”? I can’t believe Jesus would be unhappy about people having warm and generous feelings for others, even if he doesn’t get full credit.
  • Who’da thunk I could get no raise and three furlough days in one year and still be very grateful on Thanksgiving? I do have a job. And many people couldn’t say that in 2009.
  • I’ve never watched “A Christmas Story” all the way through, but I always seem to catch the part where Ralphie’s friend Flick gets his tongue stuck on the flagpole.
  • I like getting letters in my Christmas cards. It makes me so sad when the only time of year I hear from some people, all I get is a signature at the bottom of a pre-printed card.
  • That said, Christmas cards are so beautiful. There’s such a wide variety and, after getting cards from the same folks every year, I can usually predict whether they’ll send me one with a religious theme, a classic Santa, something whimsical or elegant. I display them just like my mother did: hanging from the slats of a louvered door.
  • While you always hear “Christmas is for children,” I go out of my way to try and be thoughtful to the adults in my life. I’ve found that the kids always receive an abundance of gifts, while the singletons, elders and harried moms have rather thin piles under the tree.

I’ve been living here long enough to have witnessed the beginnings of several Tallahassee holiday traditions — Elf Night at Dorothy Oven Park, the Winter Festival and the Jingle Bell Run — but to me, the most special of all is the subject of one of this issue’s features: the Christmas Connection. I remember, 20 years ago, being moved by the stories written by Karen Olson in the Tallahassee Democrat. While charity and the holiday season go hand-in-hand, the idea to put a “face” on hardship and allow people to grant a particular holiday wish was inspired. Every place I’ve worked in the past 13 years has adopted a Caring Connection family, and it always pleases me to know that my gift is something wanted and needed by its recipient.

While it’s easy to pick up a board game or a soccer ball for a youngster, those teenagers, with their higher-price-tag wants and very specific clothing tastes, can be a challenge. So I’m also grateful that my pal Gail Stansberry Ziffer created Treats for Teens 14 years ago. It’s pure genius: The community gives money and the young people get a store card that allows them to buy exactly what they want.

I wish you and yours a peaceful and blessed holiday season and a new year filled with happiness.

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