With Christmas being less than a week away, ’tis the season for cheers. Nothing but cheers, and maybe a little joy. Thus, we are eschewing our weekly Cheers and Jeers editorial — or at least part of it.
Cheers: To Christmas lights. Even during a pandemic — perhaps especially during a pandemic — brightly decorated homes are one of the most enjoyable facets of the Christmas season. With the skies turning dark by late afternoon, decorations ranging from fancy to outlandish represent the light of the season. While traditional public gatherings and many family get-togethers have been canceled this year because of the pandemic, Christmas lights are one of the few things that speak of normalcy during a most abnormal year.
The Columbian has a list of notable light displays throughout the area, providing details and photos of the decorations, along with a handy map. Taking a close look at some of the homes is an enjoyable way to celebrate the season.
Cheers: To the Fort Vancouver Seafarers Center. For years, the center has provided support for seafarers docked at the Port of Vancouver, providing gift bags for those spending Christmas far from home. This year, members are hoping to deliver twice as many bags as usual.
Writes Columbian reporter Anthony Macuk: “Seafarers already face tough working conditions during monthslong stretches aboard cargo ships, but the pandemic has dramatically exacerbated their predicament, leaving many seafarers essentially stranded at sea.” Despite the predicament, the local center makes sure the seafarers enjoy some local hospitality.
Cheers: To bike-building. An annual effort to build bikes for delivery as Christmas gifts was a bit different this year. Instead of a grand party where volunteers put together the two-wheelers, parts were picked up for assembly at home.
The result, however, will be the same, with hundreds of local families able to put a bicycle next to the tree. “It’s a family tradition. We’ve been doing it since it started,” said Larry Kingsella, who along with daughter Belen picked up six bikes for assembly. The bike-building is sponsored by Waste Connections and attracts help from numerous businesses, turning it into a prominent community event.
Cheers: To caring for caregivers. With help from volunteers and 30 corporate sponsors, Vancouver nonprofit Loving Them Forward put together 300 holiday gift bags for local professional and family caregivers. “It’s just the whole community saying we appreciate you and thanks for what you do,” said Christina Keys, president of the nonprofit.
Bags were assembled in Keys’ garage, and a drive-thru event was set up to hand them out. “An event like this has never been done in Clark County,” Keys said. “And no other county in the U.S. is doing it. I’m getting lots of calls from all over about it.”
Cheers: To neighbors helping neighbors. When 81-year-old Loretta Shaw’s rental home was sold, she was left to live in her car. That is, until neighbors in the Hough area stepped up to get her a hotel room and start a Go Fund Me page. That page was set up with a goal of $7,000; it has raised more than $23,000.
“I can’t express how generous folks in my neighborhood have been,” said Andrew Stewart, who has spearheaded the efforts. “And lots of them are blue-collar, working-class people living paycheck to paycheck who went out of their way to save this woman.” Along with many other stories this holiday season, Shaw’s tale is a reminder that we have much to cheer in our community.