The holiday season is fast approaching, and in Meaford the season will officially kick off next week, as the second annual Christmas on the Bay event will be held over four days at Market Square beside Meaford Hall, beginning Thursday, November 30.
The Christmas on the Bay event includes a traditional market that is a nod to the traditional holiday season markets one might find in European cities, along with live music and entertainment, not to mention edible treats and warm apple cider. The first event last year was well received by residents and visitors alike, and organizers are hoping to build upon the success of last year’s event.
As always, one of the highlights of the holiday season will be the arrival of the jolly ole fellow himself as the Kinsmen Club brings us their annual Santa Claus parade on Saturday, December 2, beginning at 5:15 p.m.
The Santa Claus parade is always highly anticipated. When I first moved to Meaford from the ever growing city of Barrie back in October of 2005, some 18 years ago, my own children were still young, and the first major event held in my new home town was the Santa Claus parade. Unlike the annual parade in Barrie, which was always held during daylight hours, Meaford’s parade offered something different given its early evening start time, and so it held a little extra magic for my then youngsters. My sons always looked forward to coming to Meaford for the Santa Claus parade, and after standing in the chilly air for the duration of the parade, they loved to explore the downtown shops, mostly for the treats they would find, along with a steaming cup of hot chocolate. There are some things that small towns just do better than larger communities, and from my perspective, the Santa Claus parade is one of those things.
My sons are grown men now with busy careers, so parades aren’t currently very high on their priority lists, though that will no doubt change should they start families at some point in the future. However there will be no shortage of youngsters lining Sykes Street next Saturday eager to see the man in red arrive in town, officially kicking off the holiday shopping season.
As magical as the Santa Claus parade, or the Christmas on the Bay event might be, as I noted in an editorial last year this time of the year can also be extremely stressful for many. I like to remind folks that the stresses we experience are most often self-induced as we embark on a quest to create the perfect celebrations for our families and friends.
For those celebrating holidays over the coming weeks, there can be pressure to host the perfect family gathering, or to purchase just the right gifts to bring smiles to the faces of family members. While such pressures might be minor in nature, they can build on one another, frazzling nerves and spoiling what should be a festive time.
The pressures of the season are not just for those busy organizing family gatherings. For some, this is an extremely lonely time of the year. Those without family members to gather with can find themselves on the outside looking in at what can feel like the perfect lives of others as they gather, and hug, and smile during this festive time.
December is a complicated and frustrating month for many, and it can be easy to let the stress of the season boil over into frustration and despair. At this time of year it can be worthwhile to remind everyone that perspective is everything.
The holiday season can create a feeling of urgency to get everything done before the magic date of celebration, whatever that might be for you personally, yet there is no need for urgency, there is no need to heap stressors upon ourselves over something as simple and ultimately inconsequential in the grand scheme as a holiday.
The best advice I have ever heard when it comes to dealing with the stress of the holiday season came from a friend during a conversation last year, when they noted that we need to stop striving for perfection, but instead let the holiday be whatever it turns out to be, and to simply be thankful to be surrounded by family and friends, or if you are alone for the holidays, to be thankful for the simple things, like having a warm home, or food in the fridge.
Simple words that should be simple enough to implement, but we humans are complex beings. My friend told me that their secret to having a fantastic holiday season is to maintain perspective, and to not fall into the traps of finding the perfect gifts or hosting the perfect gathering, but instead to simply be thankful to be in a position to celebrate anything at all, and to recognize that for many around the world there is little to celebrate at this moment in time. So though your tree might not be perfect, or your turkey might not be as large as you had hoped, the very fact that you can gather with friends and family for no reason other than celebration is an enormous gift itself.
As I wrote at this time last year, don’t let this holiday season steal your sanity. Instead, maintain perspective, and appreciate the simple things that we all enjoy in the relative safety and sanity of Canada. A simple tour around international news websites will reinforce the notion that, no matter how bad things might feel in our own daily lives, or no matter how frazzled we might get when preparing for holiday family gatherings, those are minor issues, mere bumps in the road when compared to what some of our fellow humans are experiencing around the globe as we enter what we consider to be the holiday season.
Whatever you celebrate, or if you celebrate nothing at all, I hope the coming weeks are filled with joy and relaxation, and are absent of stress and frustration. We are among the wealthiest and safest people on the planet, something for which we should all be thankful, holiday season or not.