As we considered all the things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, living and working in Bethel come immediately to mind.
One need look no further than last weekend, when teams of volunteers fanned out across downtown to put up bows donated by Alice's Flower Shop and new strands of lights on the lamp posts, while volunteers from the Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department, Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Department and the Stony Hills 4 Corners community group collected food donations at the Big Y parking lot next to a team from the Bethel Police Department giving a free car seat clinic for clear evidence that Bethel is truly blessed with deeply caring, kind and generous people from every corner of Town.
In a community founded over 160 years ago, 20 or 30 year old traditions, like the Nativity on P.T. Barnum Square, can seem recent. But to many in our community, it has become a symbol of the spirit of community that binds the people of Bethel as well as the celebration of Christmas, by Christians and non-Christians.
With the upcoming addition of the menorah, the celebration of "the holidays" takes on new inclusive meaning.
But we confess to a certain bewilderment at the inclusion of non-religious banners on the holiday square. The Board of Selectmen, in creating a Religious Display Committee, seemed off topic when they approved the display of non-religious banners as well. We understand and support our proud American tradition of protest, which for example certainly must be the driving force behind the atheist banner, but we also feel there are more appropriate places for protest than the same green celebrating Christmas and now Hanukkah.
Yet our faith in Bethel and her future was completely and unshakably restored when we came upon Bryan Terzian and son, along with Josh Adams and scores of other volunteers spending a beautiful weekend afternoon climbing ladders and preparing Bethel to usher in the season of love and giving, and then again when we met volunteers from the Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department accepting food donations, and then again as later that evening we watched volunteers from the Stony Hills 4 Corners serving snacks and hot drinks to children and families waiting for Santa and Mrs. Claus to arrive after the tree lighting.
We choose to focus on the good deeds of our fellow citizens, finding ways to be supportive of those deeds and to have faith that despite the efforts of a vocal and disproportionately influential minority of people desperate to disrupt the celebration of the things that bring us together, that we will always find ways to support each other and share in the warmth of the holiday season. So, we wish our readers a Happy Thanksgiving, a Happy Hanukkah and a very Merry Christmas!