Why the Holidays Matter
The Importance of Tradition
Karen and Jay share thoughts on the importance of the holidays and why they matter.
In times of uncertainty and constant change, we all have a yearning for stability. We seek those timeless constants that provide dependability, comfort, and calm. The holidays provide all that and much more. They are, at their core, are a religious celebration steeped in meaning and deeply rooted in tradition. They are also time when we can connect with family and close friends. And through it all, we feel a warmth and enduring spirit. Where year, after year, we engage in the same celebrations, the same family gatherings, pull out the same Christmas decorations and fondly remember the joyous memories of Christmases past.
And, it’s all happening again this year. I’m not sure about you, but it’s been truly incredible getting into the holiday spirit over the last week or so. It’s that time of year when twinkling lights start to appear around the neighborhood, Christmas trees adorn the tops of cars on their way to their new homes, and where there’s just generally a magical spirit that fills the air. Yet where does this magical spirit come from? What makes the holidays matter so much? Is it the spirit of giving? The presents we receive from friends and family? Is it how we honor each of our religious heritages? Perhaps it’s all of the above.
Ultimately though, the holidays are of such great importance because of the traditions we both celebrate and honor. Holiday traditions and rituals not only pay tribute to the past in a significant way, they’re a reminder that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. They provide us with a sense of history and place, where we came from, why we’re here. From the food we cook, to the games we play, even the decorations a family may choose to put on their Christmas tree, or the menorah used to welcome in Hanukkah, holiday traditions are memento’s that can connect our present selves to the past, giving us a renewed appreciation for why we are who we are.
What’s even more magical is when we’re able to share those holiday traditions with others. As I was discussing this week's Sunshine Report with a friend, she shared with me that she didn’t really have many strong holiday traditions growing up, that was until she met her husband. As they began dating and then eventually got married, he shared some of his favorite traditions with her, and then eventually with their kids. She was shocked how much it helped give her a larger sense of self, especially as she started a family. I’m reminded of another story of a friend who was stuck abroad during the holidays. Missing his family, he was kindly invited to the home of a colleague who shared their Christmas traditions with him, bringing him a needed sense of comfort since he couldn’t be with his own family.
These are just a few anecdotes about the importance of the holidays. If there’s one message to take away here, it’s that the holidays nurture us, provide us with essential moments to bond with family, friends, and even ourselves. And it’s thanks to the traditions we celebrate, whether they be time honored, or something new someone’s brought to the table that help us do that, and that itself is something to celebrate!
Lighting up Christmas in New Hampshire
I love Christmas, I mean who doesn't. Even the Grinch and Scrooge came around and embraced the Christmas Spirit. While pulling out the Christmas tree decorations this year, Karen and I were watching the smash hit ‘Christmas Light Fight.’ You know the national television program that showcases some of the wildest Christmas decorations across the country. Then I got to thinking, what are the places around New Hampshire that can really get people into the holiday spirit by seeing and experiencing amazing Christmas lights.
But before we jump into this fun list, let’s pause for a fun trivia question. Do you know which President first welcomed Christmas lights into the White House? The answer is Grover Cleveland in 1894. Electricity was a new thing in our country and the White House had recently been electrified, so the President said, ‘let's try out this new sensation.’ Today, the White House is decked with spectacular trees and holiday decorations that are second to none. Now back to the good ole Granite State where I invite you to take a look at these amazing light displays that are not only bringing joy but making a difference for those most in need. And as always, I invite you to post to my social media feed your favorite light display.
LaBelle Lights - Derry, NH
My good friends Amy LaBelle and Cesar Arboleda have transformed their Derry location into a winter wonderland. People can grab a hot chocolate and walk along the path decorated with 250,000 LED lights. Portions of ticket sales will go to Empowering Angels, a non-profit organization which supports children following their passions and dreams of entrepreneurship. These are two amazing people who have already made a difference in their industry, community, and state, and are now bringing the Christmas spirit and joy to many!
NHMS - Gifts of Lights - Loudon, NH
We know the overall impact that the Speedway brings to the state and region year after year. For one week a year, Loudon, NH becomes the largest community in the state. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to the Speedway to watch NASCAR greats duke it out to win the Great Lobster Trophy! It's a massive economic impact for the region and a huge spotlight on our state. And speaking of ‘lights,' the crew at NHMS decorates the Speedway with over 4 million lights along 2.5 miles of paths and road. With a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Speedway Children's Charities, the team at NHMS is helping not only give the thrill of allowing fans to take their car on the track but support an organization that gives out over $100,000 in grants to child enrichment and support programs across New Hampshire.
Jobin Family Light Display - Bedford, NH
Last, but certainly not least, is the light display put on every year by the Jobin Family at 8 Stevens Drive in Bedford. This dead-end street features one of the greatest light displays of any home I have ever seen. The Jobin family sets up displays and features over 100,000 Christmas lights across their property and all to benefit Make a Wish.
The people behind the lights are making a huge difference and ‘lighting up’ the joy of Christmas. If you get a chance, please visit these and other fun locations – and ‘catch the spirit!’
Communities Coming Together in the Christmas Season
A New England Christmas’ is truly special, and with winter in the air, preparations for the holiday events are in full swing. The holidays are a time for gathering, and in New England, that’s an important part of our heritage, right around the Christmas season. As the nights grow longer and the snow starts to fall, there is a strong urge to socialize. And interestingly enough, there have been a number of studies over the years which say that socializing is almost as important a basic need as food and shelter!
There is a picturesque feel when Christmas comes around in New England. A children's book which captures that feeling is called ‘Lucy’s Christmas’ and is set in the 1900’s in South Danbury, NH. It tells the story of a young girl waiting in anticipation of holiday celebrations in the middle of her town.
This time of transition has stayed with New England through multiple types of gatherings which celebrate the Christmas holiday or the winter season. I am sure every community has its own special tradition.
For example, in Hanover, there is the Christmas Revels Festival. Since 1975, the festival has captured the magic of a New England Christmas by offering multiple festivities associated with the holidays - including storytelling, caroling, as well as a play celebrating the midwinter season.
All across New Hampshire, ballerinas at ballet schools slip on their ballet slippers and dance with the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker - to their parent’s and families’ delight!
In Enfield, there is the La Salette light show where thousands upon thousands of lights are displayed on the hilltop near the La Salette Shrine bringing huge throngs of people from around the region to see the marvelous display from Thanksgiving till New Year.
In Portsmouth, at the Strawberry Banke Museum, a candlelight stroll brings you back to yesteryear and highlights homemade Christmas decorations and other gift traditions.
All of these events focus on bringing people together to celebrate the season and each other, during this most magical times of the year!
Positive Profile of the Week: Tim Lang
This week we are delighted to honor a great friend and true leader in the Granite State, Senator Tim Lang of Tilton.
Many have come to know Tim as a dedicated public servant who has served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives since 2012. During the past decade of service, he has been an important member of numerous House Committees, including the Executive Departments and Administration Committee, the Legislative Administration Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee. All of that changed in a good way, however, in November, when the voters gave him a promotion to Senator!
Senator Lang is a strong advocate for small businesses in his district, having founded the Beer Caucus to help promote local breweries. He also works closely with Senator Howard Pearl of Loudon to ensure that small businesses have access to resources they need to succeed.
In addition to his work in the legislature, Tim is an active member of his community. He serves on several boards and committees including the Tilton-Northfield Rotary Club, Belknap County Economic Development Council, Lakes Region Planning Commission, and Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. He also volunteers with several local organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Central New Hampshire and the Salvation Army.
Tim has been recognized for his dedication to public service by receiving awards from organizations such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and the New Hampshire Association of Realtors (NHAR). He was also named Legislator of the Year by the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association (NHLRA).
Senator Lang’s commitment to serving his constituents is evident in all that he does both in and out of office. His dedication to promoting small businesses in his district has earned him recognition from many organizations throughout New Hampshire, making him an invaluable asset to both his constituents and the state as a whole.
However, above and beyond all his achievements and distinguished public service, Tim is simply a good person, a kind spirit and a friend that you can depend on. Senator Tim Lang, we thank you for all you do and the great leader that you are!
Quotes of the Week: Holiday Tradition
“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in a warm circle of family and friends.”
“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”
“Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first.”
George Matthew Adams
“Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves.”
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.