Have A Joyous Holiday Season

December 22, 2011

As the temperature drops and decorations go up, it definitely feels like the holiday season is upon us. While you are out shopping for loved ones, make sure you try to enjoy this time of the year. It may be hectic, but there is a certain beauty to behold in the mix of sights, sounds and smells. Driving home, you might see homes decorated with strings of lights brightening up the long, dark nights. Walk into any store and you are bound to hear the jingle of bells next to the red Salvation Army bucket. Take a deep breath, and you might find the winter air is crisp and filled with the scent of evergreen trees and wreaths.

Every year in late December, we take time off from work or other responsibilities to celebrate with our families and friends the traditions that have lasted as long as we can all remember. First, Hanukkah begins at sunset on Tuesday, December 20th and lasts until sunset on Wednesday, December 28th. As always, Christmas will be celebrated Sunday, December 25th. Also this week, Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration that begins on December 26th and ends on January 1st every year. Whatever holiday you celebrate, we all come together as Americans to give thanks for all that we have and to unwind from the daily grind and spend time with loved ones.

We have an excellent group of small businesses and local farms that could benefit from your support this holiday season. Choosing the right gift can be hard enough, but our local shop owners are dedicated to assisting you with whatever you are looking for whether it’s at a hardware store, a bookstore or a jeweler. In addition, many of our local farms sell Christmas trees, wreaths and local crafts to help decorate your home. I encourage you to reach out and consider shopping at these stores and farms since these owners work and live in our neighborhood.

December is also a time to turn our attention to the members of our community who need our help. The winter months are an especially important part of the year to support families in need with donations of food and toys for children. From Toys for Tots to the Salvation Army to our local aid groups, they can all use our help. I encourage you to consider volunteering your time or donating some food to one of the soup kitchens or food pantries that serve our community. Volunteers are always needed to help process donations, package food or deliver it to families. These groups accept donations of non-perishable food, such as canned vegetables, soups, sauces, tuna, cereal, rice, macaroni and cheese and more. Monetary donations are always welcome.

The Sterling House Food Pantry is located in the community center at 2283 Main Street in Stratford which provided over 66,000 meals to families and individuals in 2010. The Area Congregations Together, Inc. which operates the Valley Food Bank Network Services and Spooner House shelter at 30 Todd Road in Shelton annually provides more than 130,000 meals to residents in lower Naugatuck Valley. The Monroe Food Bank is operated by the town’s Department of Community and Social Services and is located at 980 Monroe Turnpike. Each month, they provide more than one hundred families with a week’s worth of groceries. The Seymour/Oxford Ecumenical Food Bank packages food for area families and is located in the Trinity Episcopal Church at 91 Church Street. Make sure to call ahead for donation hours or if you are interested in volunteering.

These are just some of the ways you can share the holiday spirit with your family and neighbors. However you celebrate the holiday, make sure you take this opportunity to relax and enjoy the time off with loved ones. From our family to yours, I wish you a happy holiday and a joyous New Year.