Thursday, February 29, 2024

Happy Holidays, See You in 2024

In just ten days, 2023 will come to an end, and a new year will begin. This week’s newspaper is our final paper of 2023, and after we have delivered the newspapers on Thursday, our small team here at The Meaford Independent will be taking a break until the new year, with our next paper to be published on January 11.

The holiday season is a perfect time for a break, to spend time with family and friends, to put the year that has passed into perspective, and to recharge the batteries before diving head-first into 2024.

It has been a heck of a year in the Municipality of Meaford. In last week’s editorial I reviewed some of the major events which took place in Meaford from a council perspective in 2023, but as we all know, a community is much more than a council chamber, and this community was indeed buzzing with activity for much of the year.

Since first moving to this community nearly 19 years ago, I have enjoyed the wide range of activities and events that take place in this municipality throughout the year, with the vast majority of those events having been created and driven by volunteers, our friends and neighbours creating fun and memories for all to enjoy.

From the Farmers’ Market, which kicks off in early June and showcases this community’s rich agricultural heritage, to the Leith Summer Festival concert series, to the Canada Day celebrations, three of them to be precise, held in the urban waterfront area, Annan, and Bognor, our summers in Meaford are festive indeed.

Our summer fun continued in August with the second annual Summerfest event bringing the downtown core alive for a very busy mid-summer weekend.

Our summer fun was capped off by the Sweetwater music festival in September, followed by the always highly anticipated Scarecrow Invasion & Family Festival, along with the Apple Harvest Craft Show which never fails to fill the arena and curling club with crafty vendors and eager shoppers.

As the holiday season approached we had the second annual Christmas on the Bay event, turning Market Square into a European-style holiday marketplace for a few days of holiday fun, including of course the annual Santa Claus parade brought to us as always by the local Kinsmen Club.

Though all of these events might differ from one another, they have something in common: they bring the community together for some fun and entertainment. I feel fortunate to live in a community where there is so much going on, and where so many events are able to bring folks together, setting aside the cruel reality of the world outside of our little bubble for a little while as we engage in a positive way with our friends, neighbours, and strangers alike.

With all of the problems around the globe that we see in the news every day, our own problems and frustrations, as legitimate as they might be, seem to pale by comparison, and for that I feel fortunate.

As this year draws to a close, we are in the midst of the holiday season, a time to be festive, a time to gather with friends and family, to share a meal, and to celebrate together.

A big thank you in advance to those who will be working over the holidays while many of us are celebrating and enjoying some time away from work.

Police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses, snowplow operators, and a host of other professions will either find themselves working or on call over the holidays, and their services are certainly appreciated and respected by this scribe. My stepfather was a police officer, so I know well the realities for those who give up their Christmas morning with the family or the New Year’s bash with friends in order to head into work to serve their community, often putting themselves in harm’s way during this festive time.

With 2023 nearly complete, I am certainly looking forward to 2024.

There will be no shortage of issues to grapple with in the coming year, no shortage of frustration at municipal budget time, or during public meetings focused on new developments proposed to be built in this community. But as we have seen with what I have written above, we also have no shortage of fun to be found throughout the year, which provides a balance that I think we all too often fail to appreciate.

Before closing, I also want to note that I am thankful to all who take the time to write and submit letters to the editor. There is no such thing as too many perspectives in my humble opinion. Since this newspaper was launched nearly 15 years ago I have received and published hundreds of letters to the editor, roughly 150 each year. I truly appreciate all of those letters to the editor, as whether I agree with them or not, what matters more to me is that people are engaged, and taking action on issues that are important to them, and that is never a bad thing.

Happy holidays to our readers, advertisers, and supporters. Personally, I am looking forward to the next couple of weeks both to enjoy some time away from work and news, and also to spend some time with my sons who are coming to Meaford for a visit. When your children are grown and blazing their own trail in life with careers and relationships, those visits might become less frequent, but they also become more treasured.

Whatever you are celebrating in the days to come, or if you celebrate nothing at all, I hope that this holiday season brings you joy, and that it provides a nice break from the often harsh realities of everyday life. So have fun, enjoy some good food, sip on a festive beverage, but be safe. If you are planning to drink alcohol or consume cannabis, don’t get behind the wheel; call a friend, call a cab, but don’t drive while intoxicated, it isn’t worth ruining an otherwise festive time, it isn’t worth risking the lives of others or your own.

Be smart, be safe, and I will meet you back on this page in 2024.

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