Holiday Traditions: It's Treelighting Time!

Tonight is our annual Holiday Sparkle here in my little town in the mountains. Downtown merchants stay open late (and by late, I mean they don't lock their doors at the usual 5 pm), and hand out snacks to the men, women and children who brave the cold. Carolers and musicians perform for the crowds on the courthouse steps. Santa listens to Christmas wishes of little boys and girls in a special chair set up for him on the courthouse plaza. The courthouse itself is festooned with lighted reindeer and single Menorah. And one of the large trees on the front lawn is strung with lights waiting for the countdown to the official tree lighting while those of us who can remember grumble about how the "old" tree was bigger and better.

The best part for me, though, (besides the free! fudge they always hand out at the Drug Store), is seeing old friends from high school and college. Former teachers and professors, too. It seems like everyone comes home for Sparkle. No matter how far away they live. The sidewalks are nearly shoulder to shoulder—which is saying something for a town that has only about 5000 people in it. And you can't walk more than a few feet without seeing someone you know or someone you used to know.

For the kids, I can say without question that the best part is the truck light parade. Firetrucks, logging trucks, ambulances, cement mixers and tow trucks all make a loop around downtown covered in Christmas lights and the occasional holiday inflatable lawn ornament. The tackier the better.

For the doubters...we really do have a trucks light parade

I sometimes worry whether I did the right thing by moving back home to raise my children. But when I see the people, truly merry and filled to the brim with cheer, and I feel the strong sense of community, I'm positive I made the right decision. My kids may hate this place when they become teens. They may want to leave and never look back. But considering the number of people who DO come back every year, even just to visit, I'm not too worried.

What kinds of holiday celebrations do you have where you live? Are they big city spectaculars or something similar to what we do here?

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