One of my favorite times of year is the resurgence of family traditions. The smells of Thanksgiving and holiday dinners transport us back to our childhoods, where relatives gathered to break bread, share stories and jokes, and our elders would regale us all with tales of the good old days.
Christmas trees and lights go up in droves, music and scents of the season accompany us on our daily bustles and adventures, and of course the mad rush of shopping for the year’s hottest gifts becomes like a sporting event!
But, the holidays can also bring somber reflectance and personal struggle. In my family, we said goodbye to our two matriarchs within six months of each other; my grandmother and my mother.
They truly were the core of the holiday spirit in our lives, spending countless hours creating savory dishes for large family gatherings, singing along to Perry Como and Bing Crosby Christmas music, and searching the malls for the hard-to-find toys of the season.
Amazon and online searching and retail has since replaced the once holy grail of Christmas shopping, and the tome called “The Sears Catalog.”
Pandora puts every variation of Christmas classics at our fingertips, and the rush of modern life has seemingly necessitated replacing freshly made traditions with easily purchased conveniences.
There is one tradition here in Santa Clarita that embodies not only the memories of my mother, but also the spirit of what the holidays should be about: kindness.
Each passing year that I become more involved with so many nonprofits in our community, I am continually impressed and grateful how much our town comes together when it is needed most.
The beautiful Festival of Trees event for the Boys and Girls Club brought out Christmas cheer and giving in full force, raising money to help provide a safe, fun and educational place for our children to grow and learn.
Seemingly non-stop funds, love and support continue to arrive for the families that have experienced the devastation of the Saugus High School shooting. “Saugus Strong” has become a beacon to us all, and will serve as an eternal reminder to the nation the importance of healing, compassion and community when faced with the unthinkable.
Taylor Kellstrom and many volunteers once again held the annual “Bowling for Kids” benefiting the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
Kiza Hilton and many like-minded guardians and lovers of animals held their “Wild for Animals” event, benefiting the Castaic Animal Care Center.
I love to support such wonderful people and organizations in our community, and I know my mom’s passion for the holiday season is honored in the kindness of so many here in Santa Clarita.
Without fail, however, the credulity of everyday Americans is falling prey to the constant barrage of “breaking news” in our political world.
Facebook and Twitter light up with some new meme or headline that twists facts or highlights particular focus on the impeachment hearing, or what will come of the elections in Britain and the seemingly endless “Brexit” conundrum.
Even at a time we look to celebrate peace on Earth and good will toward men, we can’t help ourselves from putting faith, community and doing what’s right in the back seat of our lives and instead focus on the entertainment value of political discourse.
I implore all of us, as we reflect on 2019, the hardships our community endured, and the successes we continue to strive for, to lay down our partisan shields and swords, even if for only a moment.
Mute the invocations of your favorite commentator, follow the politics here at home and abroad but don’t lose yourself to it, and take time this holiday season to regroup, remember and recall what brings you happiness.
Put down your phone (I promise Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook will survive with a few less eyes watching) and watch as little ones play in the rain, open their presents, and live in a moment of innocence and happiness.
Go out and enjoy the Christmas spirit that abounds in Santa Clarita, whether you look upon the inspiring decorations with gratitude and piety, and rejoice in the spirit of the holidays religiously, or simply as an outward demonstration of the wonderful winter season.
But most of all, take the time and patience required to show the world love and kindness. It needs it now more than ever.
On behalf of me and my family to all of you, we wish you a merry Christmas, happy holidays, and God bless.
Jason Gibbs is a Santa Clarita resident. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among several local Republicans.