UNDERCURRENTS: From season of thanks to season of giving

·4 min read

PANAMA CITY BEACH — I was slowing down on an evening drive home, having spotted a family of deer crossing Magnolia Beach Road. One of the yearlings came to a full stop in the street, and I crept to a halt as it eyed my car, ears twitching.

We had a moment, that deer and I. As darkness gathered and no one else was about, we considered each other. Though, honestly, he or she was just staring into my headlights. I’m realist enough to recognize a simple fact.

Gymnastics Plus shows off their skills during the fourth annual Lynn Haven Christmas parade on Dec. 7, 2019.
Gymnastics Plus shows off their skills during the fourth annual Lynn Haven Christmas parade on Dec. 7, 2019.

But I’m still dreamer enough to add some romanticism.

After several seconds, having stared down the unknown, the little deer bounded after its family onto the golf course and into the night.

And I recalled another thing I’m thankful for.

It has been my experience that holidays take on different meanings in different periods of life. Maybe that’s obvious, but not until you stop to consider it.

When I was a child, holidays were about going to Grandma’s house, where distant relatives would gather to celebrate. Aunts and cousins would take over the kitchen, uncles would play cards or shoot the breeze, and all the kids would run in the yard.

Even as an adult, with children of my own, we’d gather at Grandma’s for the holidays. (We often split time between my two grandmothers as well as my children’s grandmothers.) But as the older generation passed away, and the cousins spread to the four corners of the Earth, and my kids grew up and moved away, those sorts of gatherings became fewer.

This year, my wife and I had a week-early Thanksgiving with my sister’s family, sharing lots of laughter with our nephews. We had a small dinner for the day itself, joined by our son. And we’re looking forward to gathering with them again before Christmas, then joining our daughter after Christmas.

All of these get-togethers are magical in their own way.

In part, because we never know what’s ahead. Or when something will come out of the gathering dark and force us to take a good, long look.

Sometimes you’re the deer, and sometimes you’re the headlights — and sometimes you get enough warning that you can stop in time to just shine some warmth.

Panama City Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of David Ott, will open its 2020-21 season on Oct. 17.
Panama City Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of David Ott, will open its 2020-21 season on Oct. 17.

As we transition from the time of Thanksgiving to the time of giving and receiving, I hope you will remember to shine your light on others.

There are a number of ongoing ways you can do that, from supporting a local charity to attending a school play or holiday concert, or just getting out in the crisp air to bask in the glow of a community light display.

For instance:

  • Mosley High School’s theater department is presenting the musical comedy “Little Shoppe of Horror” this weekend at 7 p.m. Dec. 2-4 at the Gretchen Nelson Scott Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students.

  • Panama City Symphony Orchestra will present “Holiday by the Bay” at the same location at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11.

  • The Gulf Coast State College Singing Commodores and Jazz Ensemble will have their annual Holiday Concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3; and the college’s Concert Band and Concert Chorale will perform their Holiday Concert at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 5. Both shows will be staged at the college’s Amelia Center Theatre. Admission is free, but seating will be limited. Donations will be accepted for music scholarships, and canned food will be collected for a local food bank.

  • Visit Oaks by the Bay Park (which we do each Christmas Eve) to enjoy the ongoing annual light show. And don’t miss the annual Panama City Christmas Tree lighting celebration from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3. City Hall also will host a Christmas Concert at noon on Dec. 10.

  • And if parades are more your speed, you may want to be in Lynn Haven this Saturday morning, or jump on for a horse-drawn carriage ride in St. Andrews on Dec. 10.

There are so many ways to make these next weeks memorable ones for you and your family, whether young or old. Don’t let the celebration pass without giving them a look.

(Maybe just don’t stand in the middle of the street while you do so?)

Peace.

Tony Simmons is an author, teacher and artist. His Undercurrents column has appeared for many years in the Entertainer. You can reach him at writer.tony.simmons@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Tony Simmons: 'From season of thanks to season of giving'

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting