Editorial: It's 11 days 'til Christmas, so relax, smile and enjoy
As these 11 days before Christmas loom before us — family is getting together, there are meals to prepare and presents yet to buy — remember to relax and enjoy the rich traditions of this holiday season that make it so worthwhile. The holiday focus in Middlebury — as in Brandon, Bristol and Vergennes — is about community festivals, contributing to several wonderful community causes through special events, listening to chorus groups ring in the season, and for many it is a season for worship and reflection.And partly it’s about shopping locally, where you’ll greet friends and neighbors on Main Street as well as support those stores and businesses that cater to all of our needs year around. I readily confess I am not a competitive shopper. I can hardly imagine anything less enjoyable than driving a hour or more to a Wal-Mart, Costco, Best Buy or any other big-box store early in the morning and preparing myself for an elbow-swinging dash (or brawl) into a character-less, sterile warehouse of discounted stuff in which the idea is to shop hurriedly and grab as much as possible so you can get back home to enjoy what’s left of the day.It’s worth pondering how our society has transformed itself from what was a peaceful, heartfelt holiday to today’s national obsession for discounted goods. And while shopping online is less hectic than battling the mobs at malls and discount stores, the sterile experience is the opposite of what shopping locally should be all about. Fortunately, a more peaceful, joyous season is still found in America’s smaller communities. That is certainly true in the greater Middlebury, Bristol and Vergennes areas and other towns throughout Addison County where we know each other and can appreciate the services and goods provided.I enjoy buying merchandise from people I know and, call me old-fashioned, I like the ‘please and thank-you’ that are part of the pleasantries exchanged as gifts are wrapped, hot cider is sipped and casual conversation is enjoyed.As you make final preparations this holiday season, don’t shop locally just because it’s good for the economic stability of local businesses, or because those businesses contribute to the Lions Clubs or Rotary Clubs, and high school sports teams, and local elementary school programs, and 4-H and the FFA, and local blood drives, local churches, and the high school yearbook and drama programs, and … well, you get the idea. No, don’t shop locally for any of those compelling reasons. Shop locally for your own enjoyment. Take the time to slow down; to have a cup of coffee or lunch at a local restaurant, deli or coffee shop; to say hello to friends; to search in specialty shops for that unique gift; to stand by the falls, or gaze at the mountains, and think about what a great community you live in. Find carolers and join in; ride that carriage; buy the kids a hot chocolate or hot apple cider; offer a word of thanks to the store employees who helped with your gifts and listen for their appreciative response.And don’t be surprised if you find yourself smiling while you shop. Yes, shop local. It’s good for the soul.