I live in a teeny tiny town in a part of the state that’s largely ignored. For whatever reason, the south coast of Massachusetts has lagged far behind other areas in terms of commerce and development. Even tourism–which the region is prime for because of its beautiful landscape and miles of shoreline– is basically nonexistent in comparison to other parts of the state. We don’t get the crowds that flock to the cape. And we don’t have enough industry to support any significant growth in the year-round population. So that all translates into fewer amenities for those of us who call the South Coast home.
It’s pretty sleepy, but a few times a year our little community comes alive with a spirit that’s bigger and greater than anywhere else I’ve lived. There are three town events that bring us together- a town party in August, a big Halloween celebration in October, and my favorite by far, the Christmas Stroll in December.
At the Stroll, Santa comes chugging in by boat, and then spends the rest of the afternoon spiriting kids through the village in a horse-drawn hay wagon. The town is packed with people of all ages milling in and out of the festively decorated little shops that are offering good cheer. Sounds of the season (in the form of the elementary school band) waft through the air as you greet friends and neighbors at every turn. Yes, it’s like a Norman Rockwell painting come alive. And I’m not even kidding.
I love to travel, and I often think longingly of all the years I lived in the city (and count the ones until I can return) but there’s no place I’d rather be on a cold December afternoon than in the middle of this picturesque little village, listening to my son pound out Jingle Bells with the rest of the 4th grade band, standing elbow to elbow with friends and neighbors as we sip spiked cider and watch our teenagers flit from here to there, arms linked and smiles wide. It’s like for one day, you can forget about everything else that’s happening outside of our 26 square miles and just be joyful.
This year it’s especially important to embrace the feel-good days. The days filled with small moments that make your heart swell. A smile exchanged, a laugh shared, a warm hug- the little things that are actually bigger than you think.
Community matters and communities united in a common goal can do so much. If we all commit to focusing on making positive changes and respecting and supporting each other, the world will be a lovelier place for everyone. We can and should commit to core community values that instill in all generations the importance of inclusion, acceptance, tolerance and living joyfully. Yes, John Lennon- we can all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.