Before Thanksgiving, many Ohio Valley residents and business owners began decorating for the Christmas season. The music, the trees and the lights bombarded my senses at every turn before the turkey was even consumed.
I still had my ceramic turkey on the dining room table, yet across the road Christmas lights were beautifully erected along the neighbor's fence, casting a bright, white glow on the big, orange pumpkin still sitting on my porch.
Then on a late afternoon walk just after Thanksgiving, I was treated to street after street of festively decorated homes. I have to admit, it grew on me. People were digging into those boxes of ornaments left to them by grandma and pulling out those old-timey nativity scenes to grace their homes.
Even though I'm not crazy about those blow-up decorations, they still hold charm, especially that huge snowman I saw in one yard. The plastic snow fellow is two stories tall when you count his top hat.
People really are getting clever with lights of all colors hanging from bushes and gutters and window sills. I believe there just may be a little competition thing going on along Maple, Poplar and Walnut avenues in the Woodsdale neighborhood, judging by some of those displays.
While the bah-humbug types continue to blast the early onset of the Christmas season, I say bring it on. Especially this year when, despite politicians' claims otherwise, America is not at its best. Sure, we continue to have the freedoms we had last year and gasoline prices have dropped a little, but there are still way too many foreclosed homes on the market and pink slips in pay envelopes.
The appeals are greater than ever from local charities to help children and families and senior citizens and the homeless and those who have lost their jobs and, well, the list appears endless. It's almost too much to bear this year. So if stringing some tinsel on a Charlie Brown Christmas tree or hanging a homemade tissue paper wreath on the front door makes us feel better, than I say we do it.
This weekend some kids from Wheeling Central are collecting food for the 18th Street Center. If you had a bag placed on your porch, you could help in a big way with just a few cans of food. It's also one way to help feel better about sitting down at your own dinner table tonight.
Plenty of opportunities exist at any church or school to put a little happiness in a Christmas stocking for someone hurting this holiday season.
If you can, give yourself the greatest gift - the joy of helping someone else.
And if you think you have nothing to give, consider an hour of your time to visit those in a nursing home or stop by the local firehouse or police station and tell the people working there how much you appreciate them. We all have something to give, if even it's just a little piece of our hearts.
Heather Ziegler can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.