“The Christmas spirit is simply an honest spirit of love for all humanity. It is the force that moves us to give what we can, to help as we are able, and to always be of kind comfort.” 
--Richelle E. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons
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This is not live television or a video, so you will have to take my word for this. As I write this, I am literally doffing my cap, snapping off a sharp salute, and even bowing deeply at the waist.
I look around our local area this festive time of the year and I’m in total awe of the mighty and selfless efforts which have been made to celebrate the Christmas season in our local communities. As a local newspaperman since the early 1970s, I’m not sure there has been a year to top this one in terms of organized community events. 
And the most amazing aspect of all this is that there is no huge single corporation, business, mega-millionaire or government grant bankrolling these activities, it’s everyday community people and organizations coming together to make very good things happen for the rest of us. I believe it’s all being fueled by a community pride that is both encouraging and contagious and can lead to more great things in the future.
What happened in the village of Oak Hill this year is a perfect case in point. Many elements of the community came together to support and participate in a first-ever “Christmas in the Village” series of coordinated events, which were conducted this past Sunday evening. I covered this event for The Telegram and was astounded by what I witnessed and by how many people attended. It seemed as if all of Oak Hill was there. I had several Oak Hill locals testify it was the largest and most successful coordinated Christmas celebration in memory.
There have been some good things happening in Oak Hill, but the catalyst for this year’s Christmas celebration was the remarkable success of a local fund drive to purchase new pole decorations to adorn the village streets. Even the enthusiastic organizers were shocked that 40 decorations were sold in a matter of mere months; they had anticipated it would take several years to sell that many. Kudos to Oak Hill village government, the Oak Hill Chamber of Commerce, the Oak Hill Historical Society, and the Oak Hill Festival of Flags for being willing to lead and organize the effort. Dovetailing with this is the continued growth of the Christmas in the Park project, which this year has 36 decorated trees shining in Central Memorial Park. 
Meanwhile, a similar Christmas-season success story continues to unfold in Wellston where the Main Street organization built on last year’s inaugural Christmas Treats on Wellston Streets celebration. Yes, it put the spotlight on the historic downtown business district and its merchants, which is Main Street’s mission, but perhaps more importantly, it brought many elements of the community together for a good cause and a good time at what should be the most festive time of the year. The OhillCo Society tapped into this new community energy and pride with its Winter Nights and Christmas Lights project, which in only its second year, has resulted in a display of 80 decorated Christmas trees in Pride Park.
In Jackson, the person of the hour is Barbie McCathren, who is one of just a few who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. A couple of years ago, this committed and stout-hearted woman formed an all-volunteer organization named Cultivating Our Future with the objective of making her community a better place to live, by improving its appearance and thereby stirring a sense of community pride. She has initiated and carried out a host of beautification and cleanup projects and plowed on even when others talked the talk, but didn’t walk the walk. Her determined efforts with her Christmas in the Park project have resulted in 76 decorated Christmas trees brightening up Manpower Park this December.
Meanwhile in tiny Coalton Mayor Kim Milliken is continually working to shine a light on the village and make it a better place to live. Her initiation of the annual Lena’s Christmas-Tree Lighting Ceremony is in honor of the late businesswoman, Lena Humphreys, is one such example.
Meanwhile, the Vinton County Chamber of Commerce, which is as much a civic group as a business organization, continues to work hard planning and conducting the annual Christmas in Downtown event, which was pushed back one week this year and will be held next Saturday, Dec. 8 in downtown McArthur. A new tweak this year is the addition of the event’s own royalty. 
Make no mistake, these are just some of the examples of why we have reason to be thankful and be proud that we live in the small towns we call home. Christmas truly does bring out the best in us. Just look around. 
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That’s About It… Be Seeing You.