So, This Is Christmas

Besides the shopping madness, Christmas was never a religious time for my family. We celebrated the holiday by spending time with each other and admiring the many treasures that accompanied Christmas. Singing carols on the trolley, driving around looking at beautiful homes lit up with Christmas decorations, and sitting by a warm fire talking among friends.

Every Christmas season (except this one!), my parents held an Open House at our house and sometimes as many as two hundred people dropped by. The highlight of the day was Peter Clark at the piano leading the Christmas carol singing and the first and last song he played was always “It's Christmas Once Again in Santa Barbara.” It was written for guitar and isn’t easy to play, but it was always sung loudly with great good cheer.

The following stanza, taken from Montecito resident and Emmy Award-winning songwriter Barry DeVorzon, being sung by my parents and their friends, is among my favorite memories:

It's Christmas once again in Santa Barbara There is not a snowflake to be found No sleigh rides, no snowmen Like you see on the Christmas cards Oh, but we've got a lot of Christmas We’ve got a lot of Christmas We’ve got a lot of Christmas in our hearts

We love Christmas. But, so many stores in and around the area seem to have forgotten how important it is to dress up their storefronts for the season. They decorate the interior, but neglect the exterior.

Coast Village Road, for example, except for a handful of storefronts, is a less-than-exuberant example of holiday spirit. The Coast Village Business Association attempts to add a little Christmas color, but the Associations needs to raise money from businesses, and many, apparently, are unwilling to participate, at least to the extent necessary to attract attention. The upper village could use more outdoor “Christmas Spirit” lighting too.

For various reasons: fear of lawsuits, potential thievery, union regulations, or simply inertia, many of us, mainly children, are missing out.

It would be nice to see a little more done to our little village.

We can understand small businesses not wanting to front the bill of decorating the upper and lower village, so it should be everyone’s responsibility to help them out.

A few years back, a group that called itself SPARKLE raised money to bring a big-budget firework display to Santa Barbara. Maybe some of us who care about maintaining tradition could set up a fund that would help businesses decorate for the season.

So, while we wait for a citizens’ fund for next Christmas, here’s a special thanks to the businesses on Coast Village Road and in the upper village that have put in the extra time to decorate and light up our nights.