Holidays elicit thoughts of home for most of us. Our childhood home, the home we raised our children in or our current home - most of us have had experienced several homes in our lifetimes. Home is much more than four walls and a roof, it’s a feeling.
Is our Island home for you? Does it feel like a safe place where you know you’re welcome, where your opinion is valued and your contributions to the community dialogue encouraged?
I hope so, because everyone deserves to have a home like that. I think most Islanders would like our Island to offer that kind of home to both long-time residents and newcomers.
It seems we’re doing pretty well in that regard, according to one of our regular contributors. Be sure to read Simple Life by Anastasia Marchese this week for a peek into how someone new to our Island experienced our Island welcome.
How do we welcome people to our island? Whether they are here for a day, a week, a couple months or for a year or two, it’s nice to be known as a welcoming place.
We do that by getting to know newcomers, inviting their participation in the island’s everyday life and our special events. With so many newcomers, we really can’t afford to adopt an exclusionary attitude-we all know from experience that it takes all of us to make our community the best place it can be.
One of the best ways for newcomers or long-time residents to find their place in our community is to volunteer-and we have ample volunteer opportunities-from the Marine Science Center, to the Chamber’s "Roxie” to the Library, Historic Cottage and Mound House, just to name a few. It’s also a great place to meet the most friendly and welcoming Islanders, as they are the volunteers that make our island run.
As we Islanders celebrate holidays, whether on our own or surrounded by loved ones, may we each find here that sense of "home” that lets you know you are welcome, valued and appreciated. If you know someone who’s on their own this year, consider sharing your sense of "home” with them. It’s the Island thing to do.
Most Wonderful Time
Everyone knows the feeling of having a jam-packed schedule of things to do and places to go one right after another. No matter how much you enjoy the activities and the people and the fun, it’s tiring and when the hectic pace is done, you breathe a sigh of relief.
That’s what the Christmas/New Year’s week is like for Islanders.
About Halloween, our winter visitors begin arriving. Not en masse, but more like a steady trickle with a few more each week. By Thanksgiving we notice there’s more traffic on the roads and more seats filled in our favorite pubs and restaurants. And we’re happy to have each and every one of them because our economy depends on visitors, but each fall it’s a surprise the first time you are stopped in traffic on Estero by the fire station. Or you look around and notice that your favorite place is full!
Then comes December and many of our visitors head back north to be with family for Christmas and New Year’s. By this week before Christmas, the island feels a bit more spacious again.
All the parties have been held, the special events are over, and the shopping, wrapping and shipping are done. And we all breathe a sigh of relief.
During this break, some of us will enjoy a visit from family and friends, who will all marvel at our palm trees heavily laden with Christmas lights. Some of us will spend the holiday with family up north. And some will just sit back and enjoy some blissful peace and quiet here on the island.
The most wonderful time of the year-for all of us, made more so because we know that in just a couple weeks, the hustle and bustle will be back, bigger than ever. Our hotels will start filling up. Condo parking lots will get crowded. Beach walkers will notice that they have more company. Tip jars will fill more quickly. And season will be off and running, which also describes many Islanders who are involved in the hospitality industry here.
Before that all begins, let’s take a minute and just enjoy the break, the peace and quiet. Enjoy our island during this hiatus. Get to the beach. There are a lot of Islanders who don’t get to the beach very often. We have a great beach, get out there and enjoy it even if it’s for a 5-minute walk along the shore. You say you’re too busy now? Not compared to how busy you’ll be January through April.
The most wonderful time of the year-we hope it truly is for you and yours – Merry Christmas to you and all those you care about!