In a season designed for showing gratitude, when people the world over stop, however briefly, to count their blessings, the last week has given us ample blessings to count and reasons to be grateful that this is where we live; that this is who we are.
Even as local school officials and business owners were decrying a stupid, senseless teenage evening of vandalism, grass roots efforts to make this a “best ever” holiday were underway. By the time the weekend was over, it was clear, that love trumps hate.
The vandalized holiday decorations, inspired by the “Whos down in Whoville” of Dr. Seuss fame were replaced by a cadre of volunteers even faster than they were made in the first place. So many people, from school kids to seniors turned out to re-paint new decorations that the decorations were put back, bigger and better, in ample time for the holiday.
At the same time, the community faced a second consecutive Thanksgiving with no free community dinner to celebrate. But a small group of volunteers inspired by Deana Pereira and Lori Knapp Fairbairn tackled that too. In less than two weeks, the pair secured the American Legion Hall in Margaretville as a site for the dinner and collected donations and services from a whopping 83 different individuals and community businesses.
Volunteers cooked, baked, decorated and served. More than 65 residents, from little kids to senior citizens came to enjoy the meal and the camaraderie and still others were served with takeouts. With volunteers packing the kitchen and Pat Sacco playing the piano, the occasion was as joyous as a Thanksgiving dinner can be. Everyone left vowing to be back next year. Saturday’s Holiday on Main Parade was bigger and better than ever and in the cold and crisp but sunny, blue-sky weather, crowds packed Main Street to cheer on their favorites, enjoy all the activities and visit with Mr. & Mrs. Claus.
As if on cue, like in a sappy holiday movie, the first winter storm moved in on Sunday as visitors headed for home. Ski centers celebrated their opening days as gleeful snowbound kids enjoyed the first “snowday” of the year.
That wasn’t all. The Town of Andes lost a vehicle in a fire that could have meant total disaster for the town. But quick reaction from firefighters, both local and mutual aid, kept the loss to the one truck where the fire started. Nearby towns jumped in with offers of help and donated vehicles to be sure that as the storm hit, Andes workers would be able to plow out their residents.
In this day and age it’s easy to get cynical; to think that hope and optimism are naïve and to think that our best days are behind us. But in the last two weeks, there’s been ample proof to the contrary.
Make no mistake. There will be challenges and conflicts ahead. But perhaps we can, as Community Thanksgiving Dinner Coordinator Deana Pereira did, consider the words of Theodore Roosevelt saying “Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as the lips, and shows itself in deeds.
Indeed, our community showed itself in deeds during the last two weeks; a great way to start the holiday season of love; a great lead in to 2020, just around the bend. We should all, like Pereira, be happy and proud.