2016-12-01 / Opinion


Hail, December!

We have finally arrived to the last month in what has been, by all accounts, a too-long calendar year – a leap, no less. December seems wide open to possibilities – the "just believe” month. It is also when family and civic traditions come out of the mothballs. Beloved family ornaments and meaningful objects are extracted from tissue paper, and around town public places have been readied for Santa and shoppers. Hopefully, differences of opinion can be put away, relegated to the background like the Elf on the Shelf.

Even while Newport’s streets and sidewalks are laced and lit with the small white lights, and storefronts are decorated, most of us lag at least a week or so behind on the home front. The city’s merchants and mansions are way ahead of us. It’s an interesting month: A combination of hyper-focus on family, friends and traditions, and being reminded, at every turn, to help take care of our fellow Newporters, those outside of the comfortable fold.

In this week’s paper we reported on a conversation with Lt. James Bang, the Corps Officer at Salvation Army Newport. He spoke of the iconic red kettles and bell ringers, where the joy of the holiday season is shared, with smiles and kind words in public.

December is a month of give and take, and Newporters seem to find time to do both. And then, there’s Christmas in Newport, now celebrating its 46th year with nearly 100 events from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31. Founded in 1971, the nonprofit month-long series of events features seasonal activities almost every day in December. In its own words, Christmas in Newport is “a community collaboration among residents, businesses and the city.” The requisite white lights – the brainchild of Christmas in Newport founder Ruth Myers – are meant to simulate the candle-lit homes of a bygone era. Just thinking about that is enough to make you want to hold hands with someone special.

Besides a seasonal opportunity to keep your feet moving around the city, Christmas in Newport is a good way to take a breather from the boisterous month and also visit churches or places you’ve never been. Not only that, events on the Christmas in Newport calendar are free of charge or benefit a local charity.

The prospects of shopping local in a town such as ours, with its array of well-stocked shops and boutiques, makes both giving and receiving a community event. Remember the small, independent store owners. Your purchase may just help them get through the long winter months.

This is also a month to remember the needy.

Open your heart. The month is wide open, and Newport awaits.

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