Manistee Christmas

We’re visiting my folks up in Manistee this weekend. It’s become an annual tradition for us to come up for the first weekend in December for the town’s Victorian Sleigh-bell Festival. It’s a ton of fun with a craft fair, a hall of trees, a little bit of shopping, and all culminating in the Sleigh-bell Parade where a team of horses hauls the town Christmas tree through the streets while vendors dispense free hot cider and roasted chestnuts.

For us it’s the beginning of the Christmas season.

The funny thing is, none of this would be nearly as much fun without my parents. In fact, if you think about it, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, or the coming of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, almost all events surrounding this time of year involve getting together with other people and reconnecting.

We attend parties and dinners. We send gifts and cards. We reach out with phone calls and emails. The entire season, regardless of its sacred or secular roots, has the trappings of a giant networking festival. The problem is, come January most people will squander all of that opportunity. We’ll send the card or gift. Maybe we’ll make an appearance at a party or two, but after that we tend to hole up for the remainder of the winter. Come the Spring we’re no further along in our efforts to create a strong network than we were before we ingested an entire turkey by ourselves at Thanksgiving.

In keeping with tradition, maybe we need to make that New Years resolution to touch base with all of those people again in January and then again in February. Let them know that, while the season may be over, you are still keeping them in your thoughts.

There’s another tradition around this time of year and that’s the reading or watching of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. (Spoiler Alert!) At the end of the story, Scrooge has become transformed. He is suddenly this new man whom everyone loves. What happened? He resolved to keep Christmas in his heart the whole year ’round.

Let’s take a page from Ebenezer’s book and keep networking in our hearts the whole year, too.