Holiday traditions continue, new and old

By: Paul Apfel Inside Lincoln Correspondent
-A +A
Lincoln is neither Mayberry nor Bedford Falls. Nevertheless, they share a common and very desirable feature. It is a small town providing the essence of values and traditions that form the bedrock for rural America where traditions run deep. Mayberry was the fictional town in the popular Andy Griffith television series that ran in the 1960s and has been used as a term to describe idyllic small-town life and rural ease. The series’ successful eight-year run certainly attests to the popularity of that romanticized model for TV viewers of the time. Bedford Falls, on the other hand, was the fictional small town home to George Bailey, played by actor Jimmy Stewart in the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” first released in 1946. This film has become ubiquitous around the holidays and can usually be found on various television channels throughout the season. That both the TV series and the film have retained their popularity as virtual icons of ease, joy and some frustration in a small-town setting should not be lost on those of us fortunate enough to live in Lincoln. We will find cynics who disparage both entertainment pieces. Indeed, given the economic and financial distress the nation and the world have endured in 2011, the temptation to focus on negatives is strong. But that would miss the essential simple joys of the season that can be evident by looking at our city and its merchants and speaking to a few of its proud residents. Merchants and the Chamber of Commerce During December, several merchants in Lincoln’s downtown area will celebrate the season with tinsel and garland. And the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce has selected “Miracle on 5th Street” as its theme for the annual parade on Saturday, Dec. 3 welcoming Santa Claus and his elves as a highlight and potential delight for the children. The tree lighting in Beerman Plaza follows the 4:30 p.m. parade. In addition, downtown businesses will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday to share the holiday cheer with special treats. Personal Plans We asked a few Lincolnites for their ideas and plans to celebrate the holiday. Focus on friends, family and church are central themes for many. Bob and Linda McCollum may be typical with family scattered throughout California plus a daughter in Washington. The tradition has been to visit or host children and grandchildren in locations that vary from year-to-year. This year, the McCollums play host to Linda’s mother plus a son and his family, who live in Lincoln. Church services will be a central feature in their holiday activities as will social events sponsored by the Sun City Lincoln Hills Community Association. Allan and Lea Raynal find the spirit of Christmas in their family and church as they celebrate the nativity and anticipate the beginning of the new year. For Paul and Marilyn Krow, the holidays also have a family and spiritual focus but theirs is the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, which begins at sunset on Dec. 21. Celebration with family typically includes brisket of beef with potato latkes and apple sauce. According to Paul Krow, this is a family favorite for the younger grandchildren. “They get too many toys and eat too much food and candy but it happens once a year,” he said. Jeff and Sherry Greenberg will also celebrate Hanukkah this year in Lincoln, entertaining family from Nashville, Tenn. The Greenbergs will celebrate both the Jewish and Christian holidays, owing to the blending of families and traditions. This blending of traditions seems to be coming more commonplace in our society, resulting in mixed celebrations. Our family has had this experience with our relatives who celebrate Hanukkah while we celebrate Christmas. When we can get together, the menorah shares billing with the Christmas tree as the families gather to dine, reminisce and look forward to the new year. When the respective holidays are just a few days apart, the joint feasting and ecumenism is even more prominent. Lincoln Mayor Paul Joiner will spend his first Christmas with new wife, Lisa, as they blend two families into one. “It’s a mixture of old traditions shared and new traditions yet to be discovered”, according to the mayor. Joiner is an artist and Lisa a writer. “Together, we create our own Christmas card each year (her words, my drawings) to be shared with those we love.” Joiner described other aspects of their celebration as “Christmas cards completed ... with carols playing in the background, we carefully unwrap treasured ornaments collected over our lifetimes and, believe it or not, trim 11 themed Christmas trees - some large, some small. It’s quite a sight. It’s the perfect setting for gatherings of family and friends, and the birth of new traditions.” Councilman Tom Cosgrove weighed in with some of his family holiday traditions. “When my wife, Karen, was very young, her parents arranged for a neighbor on Christmas Eve to knock on the door, then scoot away leaving a gift from her from Santa’s Elves,” Cosgrove said. “The gift was pajamas for her to wear that Christmas Eve as she went to sleep anticipating Santa’s visit that night. “Years later,” he continued, “when our first two children were very young, my wife recalled how surprised she was by the Elves’ gift and we did the same for our children. Thus began the tradition of Santa’s Elves leaving pajamas as a Christmas Eve gift for the children in our family.” The practice continued through the children’s teen years and into adulthood, according to Cosgrove. “Sometimes, if one our children were away at Christmas time, the Elves sent their gift through the mail with a note ‘to open on Christmas Eve.’” The tradition has continued with the Cosgrove children, who now have their own families. “Having seen the excitement on the faces of our children and grandchildren when they hear the knock on the door on Christmas Eve, Karen and I believe that the Elves will be delivering a Christmas Eve gift to the children of many generations to come,” Cosgrove said. This simple survey suggests that holiday traditions in Lincoln continue to be strong. Perhaps small towns encourage that. If so, we should be thankful we live in such a community.