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I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge everyone who has suffered as I have through this holiday season with the obnoxious amounts of Christmas music we’ve been forced to listen to at every turn.

I’m pretty vocal about my Scrooge status, and a smile creeps across my face knowing that it will only be one more day of “Santa Baby” playing on repeat in nearly every store I walk in to buy something that will undoubtedly be in the trash can this time next year – except that handmade scarf I bought my mother, which was made by the wife of a tattoo artist from Kernersville. Or that bowtie I bought my brother that was purchased from the new Design Archives location in downtown Winston-Salem. Or the used books I bought for my parents from Pages Past on Spring Garden Street in Greensboro.

Come to think of it, all the gifts I am giving this year are closely tied to the community, and they are, without a doubt, quality products made by the people who make the Triad what it is: A thriving community of artists, professionals, and business owners.

Wow. I guess I didn’t really think about that. I’ve always loathed the holiday season because it’s willfully adding stress to my life. The stress of buying presents for people. The stress of whether or not I bought the right presents. If I wrapped them properly. If they look good. If the recipient will like it. Watering the Christmas tree. Sweeping up needles that feel off the Christmas tree. Gosh. I get so caught up in all that nonsense that I forget the things I love about the holiday season.

This season, I’ve loved shopping, and that’s saying a lot because I hate shopping for anything, even my own clothes when they have holes in them (fact: my girlfriend buys my clothes for me). I’ve enjoyed walking around to all the little shops I pass everyday to see what they are selling. In doing so, I noticed all the new storefronts that have opened in Winston-Salem and Greensboro (sorry High Point, but I haven’t made it out that way in my Christmas route). The first one is, of course, the latest addition to 4 th Street in Winston-Salem, which is Design Archives.

The people wanted another Design Archives and Kit Rodenbough, owner and founder of the original location in Greensboro, met those demands. It already has, like, 40 some-odd vendors in it selling trinkets, clothes, gifts, crafts, baked goodies and more.

I also ventured into Elasya B’s candy shop just up the street. I’ve probably passed by that place 200 times and never stopped in, but something grabbed me this season and brought me inside.

When I was out in Greensboro shopping for records with a good friend at CFBG, I happened to stumble into Pages Past on Spring Garden, not for any particular reason other than it was open and I wanted to see what was inside. I happened to find two great presents there. Who knew?

One thing I am proud of this year is that I didn’t buy anything shiny. I didn’t go to those big box stores that sell fresh-off-the-line manufactured plastic crap that will break after two years (tops!) of usage, or be dated by next Christmas. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing if you did, but if you receive a laptop from Best Buy and then use it to complain about the media on Facebook, well, you’re doing it wrong (“it” being “life.”) Leading up to Christmas, we were bombarded with negative press about law enforcement, racial tension in our country, and even murders in our own backyard. The biggest thing to happen in the past couple days is that a certain movie won’t get released because its fictional characters kill the leader of another country.

I tuned into that for all of about one hour before realizing it’s all just a charade for something else. It’s a marketing ploy used to sell something. What that is will be determined in a couple weeks when the movie is released.

Instead, I chose to focus on my community. I heard about and saw volunteers with the Salvation Army donate time and presents to families who may not be able to provide at this current time, in this current economy.

It’s beautiful what happens when you focus your energies so close to home, and the impact that it can have on the lives of our neighbors.

I like to think that what little Christmas shopping I did this year will somehow benefit one of those families in some way or another. Maybe the money I spent locally will go to an artist who is able to donate a few extra dollars to feed a hungry family this holiday? Maybe?

I do know that I feel even more connected to my area knowing that everything I spent money on was made here (even one of the books I bought is from 1909 and was written by a minister in Greensboro). Knowing that when I walk into a shop and receive a greeting from the employee, they genuinely mean it because they are just as connected to this city as I am, perhaps even more so given I’ve only been here for just over a year.

I’d like to take this final paragraph to wish all of you a happy holiday season. I hope it was safe and without tragedy, and if the latter happened, then know that you have a village of support behind you, and all you have to do is ask.

The people here take care of their own, and it will always be that way.

Happy holidays from myself and the staff at YES! Weekly. !