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The countdown to Christmas has begun

Well, it’s November, the temperatures are getting cooler and, for many, the countdown to Christmas has officially begun.

Some larger retail establishments have been getting ready for the last few weeks, with decorations and even candy lining the shelves. Or, if you happen to watch the Hallmark channel, the days have been ticking away for the last four months.

It can be more than a bit daunting when you think about everything that “must” be done before Christmas gets here. We put a great deal of pressure on ourselves in preparing for the holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a few presents already picked out and purchased, and I’ve been asked for a list of suggestions for myself periodically, so I’m moving in that direction. But, I haven’t been going full-steam-ahead toward the jolly holiday just yet.

I’ve actually tried not to think too much about it since we hadn’t even gotten to Halloween (one of my favorite days of the year) until this past week. Now, I’m counting down to “turkey day.” Plus, there is work and other responsibilities to consider.

There are constant reminders, though, and we all know it is inevitable.

Christmas parades and light-up nights are in the works. Weirton, for example, will have it’s light-up festivities on Nov. 23. I’ll be gathering information on that, hopefully, this week and have a report for our readers soon. It’s organized by the city, and features music, the lighting of a tree at the corner of Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, and fireworks.

The community’s Christmas parade, organized each year by the Weirton Area Chamber of Commerce, has been scheduled for Nov. 30. It’s always the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and includes all the traditional floats, marching bands, dance groups and more, along with its own fireworks display and other features. I’ll be working to gather more on those plans as well.

Our area has a number of Christmas traditions to be enjoyed by local residents.

We’ve already had Christmas in the Park in Follansbee, and many towns have their own holiday parades.

Decorations will be going up along many of our cities’ thoroughfares. Residents will be planning what to put on their homes.

There are light-up nights and community light displays. Over in Steubenville, the Nutcracker Village has become a point of pride for that community, and brought visitors from within and without the Ohio Valley to see the hundreds of large wooden characters.

Our area also has a special way of coming together during the festive season.

We’ll soon be hearing the bells being rung by volunteers outside of many area stores while assisting the Salvation Army to collect funding for their services.

Toys for Tots drives will be taking place.

Other collections will be taking place, or already are under way, to make sure those in need have some food, maybe a few gifts and some warm clothing. After all, it’s supposed to be the time of giving, and the Ohio Valley does that very well.

So, I would encourage all those who are able to find some way while you are out getting gifts for your family and friends, to maybe pick up a few things for those who might not be receiving anything this year. If you are unable, consider volunteering your time to assist the organizations working to help those in need.

It’s still almost two months until that special day, but the holiday season is approaching fast, and the preparations have begun.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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