With the onset of December, the Valley quickly changed into its holiday best. The streets are now lined with lighted trees and Santa décor. Wreaths can be seen hanging in almost every store window, and the added touch of precipitation has begun to make our Valley resemble something found only in snow globes.
Quaint and charming as all this all may seem, I always get a little frustrated at this time of year. Christmas is still farther away from today than Thanksgiving was, and although I appreciate the idea of prolonging the “Christmas spirit,” I have yet to find the charm in hearing Jingle Bells a minimum of three times daily for an entire month.
However, despite my insistence that we should all let the turkey settle in our bellies a little longer before jumping into the next holiday, there is always one early season tradition that I can’t help but love.
For as long as I can remember, I have always attended the Papoose Club’s Holiday Bazaar. Even when my aversion to the premature holiday craze began, I’ve still always enjoyed weaving through the tables of handcrafted jewelry, wool slippers, crystals and carvings. I had never really considered why I was less opposed to this craft fair than all the other holiday hoopla, until this year; and this is what I realized:
As much as the Papoose Club’s Holiday Bazaar is focused on consuming like so many other Christmas events, it is equally, if not more, about our community. It is a gathering put together by local individuals, to support local businesses, and give to the Valley’s youth. On the surface, it’s about holidays and gifts, but it offers something more personal than just that.
Walking between booths, I heard more conversations between old friends, catching up on life, than talk of selling or buying. Certainly purchases were being made and money was involved, but the bazaar fostered a sense of community that made it feel more like a social event than a Christmas shopping spree.
Returning vendors chatted with their once-a-year regulars while children made marshmallow snowmen and beaded bracelets. The Wood River High School Colla Voce choir performed between intermittent raffles. The sales and purchases side of the event seemed secondary to a host of other things going on.
Molly Page, the co-chair of the Holiday Bazaar and a board member of the Papoose Club said she was thrilled by the amount of families there, spending time together. She said the Bazaar was incredibly successful in fundraising, but that the family-friendly feel of it all was the highlight for her.
“It was great to offer children’s activities, so it was more of a family event than just shopping,” Page said.
After a refreshing reminder of why everyone is getting so wound up at this time of year, I left the bazaar smiling. If under the gift-wrapped surface of all this Christmas-ness is a celebration of family and community, I suppose I can put up with a few more weeks of preemptive holiday songs and sweaters.
The money raised at the Holiday Bazaar will be given to local organizations that help promote cultural, social, educational and athletic activities for youth. For more information about the Papoose Club, visit www.papooseclub.org.
*This article originally appeared in the Local Buzz blog in December 2011