The first several days of December were fairly mild, so now that Winter temperatures are here, I've noticed a lot of grumbling about the weather. I admit, I've done more than my fair share of grumbling, with exclamations like, "Of all the places they could have gone, why did our pioneer ancestors choose Nebraska?" I mean, really! There wasn't even Husker football yet when this state was founded. California, Florida…I know! Nebraska! Teeth chattering aside, I'm taking a moment to remind myself why McCook is still Nebraska's hot spot for the holidays.
1. A Christmas Carol.
This year's production of "A Christmas Carol" at the Fox Theater was awesome! The cast did a splendid job. The costumes and the set were beautiful. My oldest son played the roll of "boy in the street," also known as "turkey boy," and it was wonderful to see how well the cast worked together. Taking our family to see "A Christmas Carol" was a terrific start to the Christmas season.
2. Injury-Free Christmas Shopping.
I've heard a handful of cautionary tales about local door buster sales on Black Friday. However crowded you think stores around here were on the day after Thanksgiving, I can assure you, it was ten times worse in Omaha. Two years ago, I did my Black Friday shopping locally. Within two hours, I was done with my Christmas shopping. I called my mom to do a little bragging, and she reported that she and my sister-in-law had been standing in line at an electronics store for an hour and a half. Next year, I'm recruiting my Omaha family to come here for their holiday shopping. If we all encourage our eastern Nebraska relatives to escape the madness and come to McCook next Thanksgiving, think what a difference we could make to our local businesses!
3. The Toy Box
The Toy Box is such a wonderful service to families on both the giving and receiving end. Each year I encourage my boys to donate the toys they've outgrown. It's a great way to declutter, but also a time for them to realize how fortunate they have been. Then we donate some new toys as well. If you haven't had a chance to see how the toys are set up at the armory, make it a point to see it next year. The wall-to-wall toys give quite a perspective of the number of families who will benefit from such generosity. It is a true testament to the giving spirit of our community.
4. Flying Santa
In larger cities, Santa sits in a big chair at a shopping mall, and kids stand in a long line that stretches back to the food court. In McCook, Santa flies in on an airplane. Enough said.
5. Being in Your Own Church on Christmas Eve
Juggling the holidays with extended family while still creating your own Christmas traditions can be challenging. A few years ago, my husband and I finally made a rule that we go to our own church on Christmas Eve, and our kids will wake up in their own beds on Christmas morning. Family is important, but so is feeling a strong connection to our church family. Our church has a terrific children's service on Christmas Eve every year. It's perfect for my kids' pre-Christmas limited attention spans.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!