This year, the first early signs of Portland’s holiday season didn’t seem to arrive too early, maybe because Christmas rushed in so soon after Thanksgiving (which somehow also landed smack dab at the start of Hanukkah).

Still, by now the familiar holiday music has been being played long enough that it’s hard to believe there is a man, woman or child left who hasn’t had at least one moment when some familiar chord didn’t summon up a sudden flood of memories. Whether those memories were of a family gathering just last year, or of one from the distant past, the holiday season means something unique and special to all of us.

However your family celebrates their Portland holiday season: be it Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza or simply the Holidays, you have to agree there is something about this corner of the year that borders on magic. Little kids don’t have to be reminded of that: just mention the word “December” any time between April and November, and the eager chatter about presents, or visiting plans, or Santa (or presents again) are bound to erupt. December without the decorations, the cheerful colored lights, the cookies (thanks everyone, for those cookies!), the candy canes and gatherings of family and friends…without those, December would be just another month.

Even when the shopping and traveling and all the other sometimes too-frenetic preparations threaten to drive us half to distraction, I for one have to admit this time of year serves as a replenishing break from the relentless march of everyday. And whether it results in a spiritual moment or a festive celebration (or both!), it also creates an occasion when families allow themselves a special pause to just be together — if events allow, at the same table — or even if not, in spirit…an likely, also on the jammed-to-capacity cell phone and internet circuits!

So please allow us to wish you all the warmth and good cheer this moment can bring. Thank you for making our year as bright as it has been. And for you and yours, may this year’s holiday season bring a sleigh full of warmth, peace, joy and love!