This weekend is going to be jam-packed w/ Christmas activities. In fact, the next 3 weekends will be pretty damn festive. Tonight we're heading out to the local Victorian Christmas Parade. It's become one of our family traditions to bundle up and head out to Jacksonville to watch the parade while enjoying some warm, spiced cider and Victorian style decor. We always freeze no matter how many layers we wear, but it's worth it.
Tomorrow we'll be heading out for a candy cane hunt & marshmallow roast at a local park, followed by the town's Winter Festival. Almost every year we have missed this particular event b/c it either conflicted with another activity or b/c we didn't know about it until after it happened. This year, our valley finally has it right. They've managed to schedule all 3 of the community activities we like to attend on different nights. This means the Sams fam will be making our rounds in a trifecta of community activity unlike any we have ever experienced before. (Doesn't that make it sound so epic?! I thought so, too.)
The third event we're attending is the Central Point Community Christmas, which I have the distinct honor of being the only person to RSVP the fb event. I'm going to pretend that makes me distinguished and cool, rather than extremely dorky. We attend the Central Point shindig every year. They do pictures with Santa, crafts, and give the kids gifts. Last year they also gave away free books to the kids, which made this bookworm Mama very happy.
It's amazing to me that I spent all but 6 years of my life in this valley, but never attended any of these activities until my own child was 4 years old. All this time there were events to attend, ways to mingle with the people who live in this area, and yet I never knew it. My parents certainly weren't the joining type, unless it benefited them in some way. My ex husband was also very hermit-y and I never took the initiative to just go do them on my own. Now that I know they exist, I'm constantly on the look-out for free family fun. Heck, I'll even pay a few bucks if it's something I know we'll enjoy a lot.
My sense of community is definitely getting stronger as I get older. I want to know the people I'm surrounded by. (Or, most of them, anyway. I'm sure there are plenty I wouldn't want to meet.) I want my child to grow up attending community events. There is so much to see, so many people to get to know, and so many ways to help out. I am not yet the familiar face at every major event in the area, nor am I out volunteering. But I do aspire to be there. I don't necessarily want everyone to know my name; I just want to be more involved. When I'm no longer babysitting my nephew all the time, I intend to find some local volunteering opportunities. I have such a strong desire to just be present in my beloved valley.
Everything about Southern Oregon is beautiful beyond explanation. From the trees to the weather to "crazy Dan" the wayward wanderer. Some people see this place as a black hole. A vortex from which there is no escape. But this is my home. This is the place I was meant to be. The only place that would be able to compete for my affection is the Oregon coast. If I ever move away, that would be my first choice. Otherwise, people of the Rogue Valley, you're stuck with me in all my mediocre glory.