In just one short week, anticipation of the Jolly Old Soul will once again be behind us. It’s a crazy concept.
In the weekly newspaper business we tend to live one Wednesday ahead of the rest of the world. As one might imagine, this has the ability to take time from you even faster than usual.
Sitting at my desktop, scrolling past issues and thinking of this magical place we call home and the world knows as “Oakdale,” I thought of a few of my Favorite Things.
Now in fairness, I’m no Oprah and my list, well it’s really pretty down home and simple. Perhaps this is the beauty of being embedded in the community for which I serve; it can also be the curse. Insert wink here.
But alas this is a Christmas column and well, we all know our town just like others is certainly not perfect. This time of the year however, it sure comes pretty darn close.
As one reads the list, I encourage you to mark your next year calendar for any or all of these things which are so special to the 95361. So often I hear, “I didn’t know.” So consider this your 365 day heads up.
Spirit of Oakdale Community Thanksgiving Dinner has to be where I start. The crew which has hosted this free home cooked meal to our community the past quarter decade is not just selfless, but truly one fun bunch. Okay, maybe a bit off center kind of fun bunch, but I must admit there has never been a time when I have left their presence in anything but a good mood. This crew knows how to kick the season off right.
This year sadly, was the final time these very people will be on hand to serve. The good news however, is an equally wonderful (not to mention fun) bunch will pick up the reins next year, as the Oakdale Lions Club steps up to serve for future years.
Old Fashioned Downtown Christmas is also a personal favorite. My kiddos and I have attended the event faithfully since its first year 10 (how can that be?) years ago. The wagon rides with Lloyd Stueve and Santa always topped the list for my duo. Not to mention the true down home feel as one meanders around North Third bumping into friends and family with the Holiday Spirit.
I’d be remiss and dishonest, if I did not mention my absence the past two years due to another commitment. And what a miss it has been, most especially since the addition of the Christmas Parade, a perfect fit to attract even more traffic to the downtown festivities.
For those calling the zip code home that are minus young people in the family, I must let you in on the fun by way of Holiday Concerts. Our school district has some truly talented musicians as well as vocalists. There’s something about hearing the youth of this town create holiday classics, which really makes me proud to call this place home. Watching families pour into one of the chosen venues, often times dressed in holiday attire, the children peering into the audience to spot familiar faces – magic.
My final two favorites are truly what the holiday season is all about and this town doesn’t just do it well – they do it big. The spirit of giving is alive and well in Oakdale, California. Anyone bringing that into question just need spend five minutes speaking to Tamberly Stone of Center for Human Services or any given family or chaperone of the Oakdale Lions Annual Children’s Shopping Spree. Thanks to a team of volunteers and one very generous community, children who might not have otherwise are showered with gifts at Christmas. Through the efforts of the CHS Angel Tree, as well as the Lions Club shopping an estimated 700 children benefit.
There truly aren’t words to describe the hearts of the people who stay dedicated to the efforts of these events each year. Even more rewarding, speaking to the children or the parents as they spy the generosity of strangers all for the sake of giving.
In short, I’ve missed a lot of events in this lengthy piece. Yes, I love Cowboy Santa, the lighting of the Christmas trees around town too. These however, these are the events which, for me, truly hold a special place.
I hope you have all had occasion to make some special memories this Christmas Season. Here’s to love, laughter and giving. Now stay warm and bundle up, because … baby it’s cold outside. Merry Christmas.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.