By Jan Boston Sellers
This year, more than any other, I have had difficulty staying in the Christmas spirit. I love this season and look forward to it each year, but the recent school shooting in Connecticut have damped my enthusiasm as I reflect on how horrible the Christmas holidays are going to be for so many parents, friends and families of the victims killed in the senseless massacre in Newtown.
I shudder to think about the mental and emotional toll the survivors of that tragedy will have, not only this season, but for years to come as they attempt to rebuild lives in the wake of this disastrous event. This normally joyous time will, forever, be linked in the hearts and minds of so many parents, grandparents, family and friends with the deaths of the 20 young students and seven adults whose lives were cut short by an enraged young man.
It is also a particularly difficult time of year for other families who have lost loved ones over the recent months and will be without them for the first time this holiday season.
Ready or not, here it comes: Christmas is Tuesday and this means this weekend is the last official shopping weekend before Christmas. Schools dismiss today at 10 a.m. for the winter break, and holiday travel will begin to pick up exponentially as the hours tick by.
If you are frazzled and stressed out trying to find a last minute gift for someone on your list, you may want to consider a gift card. I love gift cards. They are “one size fits all.” You can purchase a card at almost any retailer for any amount, allowing the recipient to shop at his or her leisure for that perfect gift. You can find gift cards for specialty coffees, clothing, outdoor items, spa experiences, gym memberships, wireless phones and devices, food, games and travel. Or for the person that simply has everything: a donation to their favorite charity in their name. There are numerous local charities that would love some extra financial help at the end of the year: Avalon Center, Bread of Life, Cumberland Good Samaritans, House of Hope, Plateau Crisis Pregnancy Center and the TAD Center, to name a few. They will joyfully accept financial donations or items for their not-for-profit organizations.
The Stone Memorial Dance Team will perform in the Liberty Bowl over the holidays. The team will travel to Memphis for the Iowa State and Tulsa game. Game time is 2:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
And speaking of traveling, holiday travel will officially begin this weekend on Tennessee interstates and roadways, and motorists are urged to exercise extreme caution when driving. Already this year, Tennessee has had more than 930 fatalities as a result of motor vehicle accidents. Please remember to watch for weather updates; wear safety belts; make sure children are properly secured in their seats, booster seats or car seats; observe the speed limits; watch out for reckless motorists; and don’t mix alcohol with driving. If you know you are going to be imbibing at a holiday event, please make sure you have an alcohol-free driver among the group.
This is my last column for 2012 so allow me to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a merry little Christmas and a happy 2013!