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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Nativity scene, Plymouth, Michigan

How do you feel about a nativity scene being displayed at Kellogg Park, which is city property?  I’m looking for respectful dialog on this issue, not personal attacks, attacks against people of faith or people without faith, etc.  If you like the nativity scene and think it’s appropriate, say why.  If not, and you care to discuss it, share your reasons.

I’ll go on record as saying I’m for it.  I think this is still primarily a Christian country and Christians (observant and otherwise) pump billions and billions of dollars into the economy around the Christmas season.  We should able to be open and honest about the religious implications of the season.  I don’t think other religious displays should have to be placed in the park to balance things out, so to speak.  I am a lawyer and I understand the Supreme Court has said religious displays can be part of a larger, non-sectarian celebration.  I just happen not to care what the Supreme Court thinks on the subject.

On the other hand, I could live with all holiday displays being pulled out of the park entirely.  Why?  If society wants separation of church and state — a concept not found in the Constitution — it’s only fair to pull out everything.  I don’t think the government should honor or recognize purely secular things, especially stuff like Santa Claus and elfs and snowmen.

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There has been lots of life at Wilcox House the last several months.  Right now the “Wilcox Winter Gathering” is underway.  Most interesting to me is that the home itself is now open to the public:

The Wilcox House opens to the public for the first
time in its 100 year history on Dec. 6th at 10:00 a.m.
and will be open Tuesday-Thursday, 2pm-6pm
through Christmas Eve.

Special Christmas Eve hours: noon-4pm
Adults $5 each. Children must be accompanied
by an adult to enter the house.

Additionally, you can meet Santa there and Christmas trees and other items are being sold at the outdoor market, which is on the grounds of the home:

Outdoor Market:
Tree, wreath and garland sales: Tuesday – Sunday
Outdoor Sales begin Friday, Nov. 27th.
Hours will be posted on the gates of the Wilcox Home

Visit Santa:
Bring the kids and the camera! Santa will be
receiving guests inside the house free of charge on:
Sunday, Dec. 6th 10am-2pm
Friday, Dec 11th & Dec. 18th 2pm-7
Saturday, Dec. 12th & Dec. 19th noon-7pm
Sunday, Dec. 13th & Dec. 20th 11am-4pm

If you use Facebook, you can keep up with all the events at Wilcox House through “The Gathering at the Wilcox” group.  http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=188851708939&ref=search&sid=100000005451152.626029927..1&v=info#/group.php?v=wall&ref=search&gid=188851708939

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According to an article in the January 8, 2009, Plymouth Observer (“Kettle drive soars past 2008 goal), the local Salvation Army’s Christmas kettle drive raised more than the goal set and exceeded 2007’s donations.

Our local Salvation Army, which serves the Plymouths, the Northvilles, Canton and Belleville, set a pre campaign goal for 2008 of $235,000.  Frankly, given the difficult economic times we are in, Salvo officials didn’t expect to meet the goal.  Instead, they blew past it!  2008 kettle donations were over $244,000!

I did one “shift” as a bell ringer at the Ann Arbor Road/Sheldon Kroger and I noticed a lot of shoppers donating bills.  In my past experience, most givers leave pocket change, but this last time I noticed a lot of cash donations.  My experience is exactly what the Plymouth area Salvation Army found generally.  According to Major Jim Irvine (as quoted in the Plymouth Observer article):

We had people who knew we were hurting, and they came out nonstop to ring the bells,” Irvine said. “It was people passing the kettles who knew their families were hurting. We didn’t get any single big-check donations, as we’ve had in the past. It was all the one-dollar, five-dollar and 10-dollar donations people were putting in that made all the difference.

http://www.hometownlife.com/article/20090108/NEWS15/901080671/1032

I’m really impressed that goals were exceeded in such hard times.  Maybe hard times simply bring out the best in people.

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As I said in an earlier post, I did Salvation Army bell ringing at the Kroger in Plymouth Twp. last night.  What stood out was truly how generous people can be, especially in these tough times.

All we hear about on the news these days are the economy (nothing but bad news) and bailouts.  In this area, hundreds of thousands of people are on pins and needles over the possible (and soon) collapse of General Motors and Chrysler.  The Metro-Detroit area is already in much worse shape than the rest of the country and any automotive industry collapse would put our area in a Great Depression-like state.

I talked to one man last night who had a job at one of the factories right here in town.  He hasn’t worked for over a year since that business cut its staff down to a “skeleton crew.”  He lost his rental property and has been forced to move in with his elderly mother until he can find employment that pays well enough to allow him to live on his own.

Even with all that, he put cash in the red kettle.   During my shift, there were probably roughly 100 donors and the overwhelming majority of them gave cash.   Very few folks gave change.  I saw lots of $5 bills and multiple bill donations go in the kettle.  Trust me, I’m not judging the value of one person’s gift over another.  Cash. Change. It’s all good.  The point is that it seemed like most folks were pretty generous in their giving.

It made me feel good.  I was pleased to see that even when things are bad, many people are still willing to give their money to help complete strangers.  I don’t know how many shoppers I encountered were from Plymouth, but I think it’s a smart bet that most of them were from here since that is probably the closest major grocery store to the City and much of the township.

So, cheers to the great people of Plymouth (and Canton, Westland, Northville, Livonia, etc.) for your generosity and giving spirit.

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I’m not the world’s biggest Christmas fan, at least not how it is outwardly expressed and celebrated. I think it’s great that people decorate their homes and that cities like ours make their downtowns festive and bright. The lights, the creches, the snowflakes are enjoyable, nice to look it, but they don’t make the holiday extra special for me. I’m more interested in the personal side of Christmas, and the decorations don’t mean a tremendous amount to me from that point of view.

However, I really like the tradition downtown of the three wise men moving — must be magic! — from the east toward the nativity scene on the west end of Kellogg Park. That’s a nice touch. Whenever our family drives through downtown this time of year, we always look to see if the magi have moved closer to the nativity scene. “Oh, they didn’t move since yesterday,” or, “Hey, look! They’ve gotten closer!”

That tradition gives the downtown holiday decorations a bit of life. It kind of re-tells the Christmas story in an almost interactive (but slow motion) way.

I’m curious how long this has been a tradition downtown. Regardless, I like it and I hope it’s a tradition that stays as long as downtown gets decorated for the holidays.

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