I hope you each had a wonderful Christmas! My Christmas, and probably yours, was a little different this year. We had a much smaller gathering, and fewer gatherings all together. But I was able to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the ones so very near to me — my husband and my four boys.

Prior to Christmas, there was still the same old hustle and bustle of shopping for, wrapping, and hiding gifts. You see, my youngest is a ten-year-old, and although he’s never said he didn’t believe in Santa, I feel rest assured that one of his older brothers has told him. But I keep the secret in the hopes that he still dreams of Santa coming to fill his stocking. It’s one of the miracles of Christmas, and I don’t want to let it go.

Another tradition I wasn’t willing to let go was attending the Christmas celebration at my church, Crossroads Ministries in Broadway. Pastored by John Sauls III, they took precautions by holding the service four times so that people were able to social distance within the sanctuary. In a normal, non-pandemic year, the space is overflowing with people spilling into the welcome center. But this year, although we sat apart from each other, I still felt a togetherness as we both jammed out to some Christmas Blues and solemnly sang some traditional Christmas hymns. My church is certainly a mixed multitude, from the banker to the biker. I love the diversity there, and as our pastor once said, “if you don’t like the diversity here, you’d better get used to it, because this is what heaven is going to look like.”

The holiday shopping season may be over, but supporting small business is a year-long endeavor. Every one of us counts on small businesses as the backbone of Sanford-Lee County, and we all have a role to play in helping them through this healthcare crisis. Here are a few ways to help. Shop at a new local retailer…High Cotton Couture or With Love Boutique, for example. Both are located on Steele Street in downtown. Try out a locally owned restaurant that you haven’t experienced yet… San Felipe or Smoke and Barrel are a good options. Purchase a gift card from a small business in the area…Kathryn’s Hallmark, for example. Support small, local service providers…such as Rae-Zor Grooming, Boarding and Day Care for your favorite furry friend. The possibilities are endless.

You can also be a Social Media Small Business Champion, and tell your family and friends to do the same. Join the conversation on social media by tagging your favorite local businesses. I frequently do it, and hope you will too!

This year has been a wild ride, and my wish for you is a healthy and prosperous New Year!