There is a joy to participating in community traditions and celebrations during the holidays, from walking along a sidewalk with the streets decked out for the holidays, to shopping in local stores, to being greeted by someone likely to be the owner of the store, to finding gifts that are not mass-produced.
One way to be sure holiday shopping comes with some holiday spirit is to do a portion of your shopping in some of the area’s locally owned stores. There is special holiday ambiance available by shopping in the heart of a town that is decked out for the season. Small retail shops are part of defining any community. Their livelihood depends on the livability and quality of the neighborhoods around them. A small business owner pays attention to every detail in his or her business in a way that is otherwise unmatched.
We all benefit when local stores thrive, when local business districts beckon. An effort to support locally owned businesses has resulted in the recognition of Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, also called Shop Small. This year that day is Nov. 26.
Locally owned retail shops, services, restaurants depend on vibrant local communities to thrive, and communities depend on those businesses as well. Most small, locally owned businesses invest in community, helping to transform our towns and communities with a sense of place.
Frequently, it is the small retail person who is active in fundraising for local charities, advocating for improvements, for fire and rescue service, for local schools and in organizing holiday events.
Local retail stores, mom-and-pop stores, face tough challenges right now. Competition from big box stores and online sellers makes the holiday shopping season all the more important to locally owned retailers. But local families will literally spend millions of dollars to shop and exchange gifts during the next month in a variety of places.
Everyone will do some of their shopping at the mall. Everyone will shop online. Many will answer the call of the big box. But local shoppers should be sure to do some celebrating, shopping and dining locally. We promise it brings more joy.
Be sure to go to some of the hometown Christmas events coming up. Visit our holiday calendars to find more. — Mary Kimm
Attend some hometown holiday events
The City of Alexandria Tree Lighting Ceremony at Market Square will kick off the holiday season on Friday, Nov. 25 at Market Square, 301 King St. The event will include a welcome by the town crier, the mayor, other city officials and a visit by Santa.
Mount Vernon Candlelight Tours, Nov. 25-Dec.18: A candlelit tour, complete with characters, caroling, and 18th-century dancing on select dates. Tour the Mansion in all its holiday glory and learn about Mrs. Washington’s infamous festive cooking. Tickets are required and may be purchased online at www.mountvernon.org/plan-your-visit/calendar/events/mount-vernon-by-candlelight/
46th Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend and Parade, Dec. 2-3, presented by the Campagna Center. Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, Heather and Greens Sales, Taste of Scotland, Holiday Home Tours. www.campagnacenter.org/scottishwalkweekend
Mount Vernon Christmas Illuminations, Dec. 16-17: Fireworks over the Potomac River are accompanied by visits from George and Martha Washington. Enjoy music from local choirs, snuggle by the bonfire, and sip some hot cocoa during this Christmas event. Special tickets are not required; general admission fees do apply.
During the last week of each year, The Gazette devotes its entire issue to the creativity of local students and children. It is a keepsake edition for many families. The annual Children's Gazette is a tradition of well over a decade.
We publish artwork, poetry, essays, creative writing, opinion pieces, short stories, photography, photos of sculpture or other creative efforts.
We ask that all submissions be digital so they can be sent through email or delivered on CD or flash drive. Writing should be submitted in rich text format (.rtf). Artwork should be photographed or scanned and provided in jpeg format.
We welcome contributions from public and private schools, individuals and homeschoolers. To be published, we must have first and last name of the student. Please include the student’s age and/or grade, school attended and town of residence, plus the name of the school, name of teacher and town of school location. Please provide submissions by Friday, Dec. 2.
Email submissions for the Children's Gazette to firstname.lastname@example.org.