The holidays are in full swing and depending on your perspective, we’re either about half way through the seasonal slog or we have five-ish more weeks of holiday celebrations to look forward to.
I’m sure most people’s enthusiasm for this time of year falls somewhere on a spectrum. Depending on what’s going on in one’s life – work work, home, kids, family, money, and the weather – all seem to be common characters influencing our idea of what happy holidays are all about.
Personally, I’ve always been a glass half-full kind of person. I look for good things to focus my attention on. This philosophy has really served me well, and, in fact, I’d go so far to say, it’s one of the secrets of my success.
Speaking of good things, my husband, Bill and I, had one of the most memorable and wonderful Thanksgivings we’ve had in our 20 years together. We enjoyed a modest but fairly traditional Thanksgiving feast quietly in our Eagle River home. I enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and thanks to social media and the interwebz, I saw Santa Clause arrive in Manhattan in style and in real time.
Locally, on a smaller scale, the 5th Annual Irvin’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in the afternoon. The invitation, by Christopher Irvin, posted online, announced:
“All are welcome to attend Eagle River’s shortest and most irreverent holiday tradition. Donations of non-perishable food can be brought for the Food Bank of Alaska. Hope to see you there.”
I didn’t make the festivities this year. However, I’m certainly going to try and make it next.
Last summer, while driving through town, Bill and I got caught up in the Bear Paw Festival traffic. There were so many people doing so many fun-looking activities. We moved here a year and a half ago and this was our first understanding or realization that the Eagle River, Chugiak, Birchwood, Peter’s Creek and Eklutna areas weren’t just between the Valley and Anchorage, but an actual thriving, living, growing community in and of itself.
I’m new here, but I’m catching on.
Last week, I was introduced to the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce’s holiday event extravaganza: The Merry Merchant Munch.
Three words: OMG!
The first thing I learned about was the tree lighting in Town Square. Evidently, everyone braves the cold to listen to the local children sing, see the Christmas tree lighting and meet Santa and his reindeer.
Oh, I have got to be part of this.
The Merry Merchant Munch went straight to the top of my good things list. I asked my neighbors to tell me their favorite things about the Merry Merchant Much. The list of replies included the Christmas tree lighting, kids’ choirs, singing, treats and the awesome decorations by local businesses.
I dug deeper to learn more about the fantastical holiday decorating everyone was talking about. Last year, the Grinch theme was a hit at Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union, Kirk Medder’s Edward Jones office and Healthwise Care Center. Cozy Carpet was mentioned over and again as having the absolutely best holiday decorations. I am looking forward to seeing what they have in store for this year.
I decided to go straight to the source of holiday cheer, Merry Braham, special events director at the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce. Braham’s accumulated a lot of holiday cheer in the almost 40 years she’s been involved with the Chamber.
I asked Merry what her favorite parts of the Merry Merchant Munch are.
“Number one is I get to go into new businesses in the community and get to know them. Number two is the music. The high school choirs from Eagle River and Chugiak, directed by Ron Lange, sing carols to whoever will listen. They are all happy, smiling and enthusiastic. Their music is amazing. Number three is the munching, of course,” said Merry.
Despite Braham’s top three favorites list, she delighted in telling me all about the businesses who decorate for the event. Some spend two weeks prior to the Merry Merchant Much creating their holiday cheer displays.
“The very best thing,” said Merry, “is seeing the joy on people’s faces – the children and the adults – the true joy of the holiday season.”
Carols, goodies, the tree lighting, sleigh rides, dog mushers, Santa and his reindeer, I’m in. In fact, I can’t wait! The Merry Merchant Munch sounds like a great, fun-filled, family event benefitting our whole community. That, my friend, is a very good thing.
Look for me tomorrow and Saturday. I’ll look for you. Let’s see if we can get a selfie with Santa.
Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Pearch is a contributing writer for The ECHO News. Her weekly column will focus on the Good Things in our community.