Too often, we look outward at the holidays, shopping, planning and attending parties, decorating. Coming as it does between the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year (or, if you prefer, the longest night) and the day our calendar tells us begins a new year, Christmas is also a time to look inward, to take stock of our lives and be thankful for family, friends and community.
A glimpse at the pages of the paper over the past few weeks shows just how thankful our communities are, in the form of generosity to the many agencies set up to help those who, through whatever the circumstances may be, find themselves in need of assistance. The Chronicle's Helping Neighbors fund drive, benefiting the Family Pantry of Cape Cod, is currently running full speed toward its goal of raising $60,000. A first-time summer Helping Neighbors drive ended August blowing away its $60,000 goal, bringing in nearly $150,000 thanks to an anonymous patron who matched donations. That's heading toward more than $200,000 for the Pantry, which will feed, cloth and provide holiday gifts for thousands of our neighbors, people who share our love of Cape Cod but struggle to make this their home. As a community, we are stronger for their presence and grateful to the many whose spirit and circumstances compel their generosity.
Toys for Tots, Homeless for the Holidays, the Chatham and Harwich Children's Funds, Lower Cape Outreach Council, the Homeless Prevention Council and many other efforts by local organizations and individual residents ensure that our neighbors are taken care of, not just over the holidays, but during the rest of the year, when the giving spirit is less evident. It can be hard to live here; wealth and abundance are conspicuous, huge homes go unused for most of the year, and living wages can be hard to come by. Yet people stay, because Cape Cod – and particularly our little corner of Cape Cod, Chatham, Harwich and Orleans, the Pleasant Bay communities – retains something of the magic of Christmas all year long.