It kicks off in each community with tree lightings, accompanied by songs of the season and warm beverages. These events are free and are fun for families or individuals - from the big oak tree lightings being held in Danville today and in Alamo on Dec. 2 to the Hospice of the East Bay Tree of Light ceremonies, taking place at the Livery on Nov. 25, in Blackhawk on Nov. 30, and Alamo Women's Club on Dec. 12. People can purchase lights on the Hospice tree to symbolize the life of a departed loved one or they can just go to the lighting to share in the commemorative ceremonies, which have music, poetry and a short talk by a hospice speaker. To purchase a light for $20, call 887-5678.
The Museum of the San Ramon Valley has its special Christmas Memories display, with trees from the 1890s, 1930s and 1950s, guaranteed to be a nice outing for the whole family. And the museum shop is a good place to pick up a gift for history lovers or a stocking stuffer.
Whether folks have shopping to do or not, it's fun to stroll through the streets and shopping centers and enjoy holiday decorations. This is the time when shop owners are most inspired to make their stores inviting and to play upon the holiday theme.
Speaking of decorations, many neighbors enjoy lighting up their homes and yards, too. One new trend is to list the more noteworthy houses at Lightsofthevalley.com to let others know about spectacular houses, from Alamo to Danville to the South Bay to Marin.
Hopefully the longer holiday season will make things less rushed and give everyone time to savor what our community has to offer at this special time of year.