Though no doubt quite different than in the past, this week begins the winter holiday season. The Downtown Christmas Parade will not occur, the lighting of the City of Roanoke Christmas Tree and the Drumstick Dash will be virtual, and our family gatherings are likely to be much smaller than in years past. Yet, Nov. 26 still marks Thanksgiving Day, there will still be Black Friday, and Small Business Saturday for shopping—even if much of it now involves virtual shopping and curbside pick-up. The ballet is still performing the Nutcracker, albeit to smaller audiences. Chanukah will still be celebrated in December, as will Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Boxing Day. The winter solstice will still occur mid-December and, at the end of the month, we will finally put the year 2020 in the history books.
Much Remains to Celebrate
For many people, little has been as anticipated or hoped for this year. Still, we cannot let our current struggles limit our joy. We continue to have much here in Roanoke to celebrate. Many of our small businesses and local restaurants have adapted, and continue to offer their wonderful services, products, and meals. There is no better time to visit them, order from them, or pick up at the curb. Most of our cultural institutions continue to provide ways you can tap into your creative side, including virtual performances, outdoor exhibits, and even safe and limited-size exhibitions. They too can continue to benefit from your support and financial assistance during this season.
Our surrounding mountains and parks just concluded a spectacular display of autumn colors, and are now ready to accommodate your outdoor hiking, biking, and kayaking adventures. Our local parks and playgrounds offer safe opportunities to recreate and help those grandchildren burn off some of that boundless energy. We may have to view most football games via cable, satellite or livestreamed on our TV monitor or mobile device, and sadly local hockey will have to wait another year. But we can still cheer our favorite college team, show our support by purchasing team merchandise, and prepare ourselves for next season’s Rail Yard Dawgs!
Traditions – Old and New
City crews have hung the holiday wreaths and lights throughout downtown, and the Parks staff has installed the Christmas tree. Vendors throughout the City have decorated windows with festive displays, places of worship are planning how they will celebrate, and Grandin Village celebrations this year include a community holiday tree. Valley View Mall, Williamson Road, South Roanoke, Brambleton, Wasena and Northwest Roanoke business areas are all decked out and ready to help you find that holiday gift. Christmas trees can still be picked out and cut in Vinton and Floyd, or bought already cut, along with that holiday wreath, at a number of locations throughout the City.
No doubt, the holidays this year will be different. But the most important thing is what they will still be. We will still celebrate their true meanings, we will still be amongst those we love, even if not in person, and we will begin a new year with hope and promise. I even suspect through all of this, a new tradition or two may be borne. Let the Holidays begin!
-- Bob Cowell