Halloween is just one week away, which is like a green light on the holiday rush. Four weeks later and we’re in the Thanksgiving madness, then four-and-a-half weeks to Christmas and Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve and then it starts all over again.

I knew I was in trouble about a month ago when I went to the Home Depot and the Christmas decorations were all on display. Soon after that, I noticed the Halloween stores popping up. I’m OK with the temporary stores. I like the idea of people being able set up a business for a brief period of time to fill a niche and then disappear for a year. I think I’d hate it if there was a Halloween store all year long on the corner of Lincoln and Pico boulevards. It would erode some of the excitement and novelty that comes with an event that happens only once a year.

The seasons are enjoyable because they bring something new or at least something different. Like this week when I stopped in at the Krispy Kreme for the first time on Wilshire Boulevard and found they have pumpkin donuts. I had to try one (diet banished for a moment) and oh my, so wonderful.

These seasonal treats are what make for pleasant days. I was in a better mood after having had that donut. It just brings back memories and puts me in a fall — not foul — mood. Then as I drove down Fifth Street I noticed construction has begun on this year’s ice rink. I manage to get out on the ice about once a year, and get off it before I break something.

I can already tell this holiday season is going to be better than last year’s. People are more optimistic, whether it be about the general economic conditions or our brave men and women coming home from the Middle East. There seems to be a more positive attitude in the air. Perhaps it’s just the emotional exhaustion taking hold and people are now at the point of recognizing the world changed and the new reality is setting in, or perhaps things are actually looking up.

The jobs market is slightly improving, if you have the right credentials, and the credit markets are starting to thaw — again, if you have the right credentials.

I’m hopeful that this optimistic attitude can be carried throughout the community this holiday season. I’d like to see lots and lots of holiday lights, and decorations throughout Santa Monica. Two years ago we were all in shock from the financial meltdown. Last year most of us were still licking the wounds and trying to not increase the damage. This year I’d like to see us get on the far side of it all and be happy, jolly and friendly.

There are many opportunities to extend ourselves this coming season, and with the abundance that most of us have in our life we should be able to share it with others who are less fortunate. This year we can all do a bit more for those who have less than us. Whether it is sending a check to the Red Cross for disaster relief, sponsoring a child in a foreign country who needs food and clothing, donating some time at one of the many nonprofits in our fair burg, or simply dropping an anonymous bag of groceries at that doorstep of the family down the street who has fallen on hard times, we can all help out someone.

If you’ve never done any of those things, I suggest you pick one and try it; you’ll be amazed at how it lifts your mood and makes you feel special. I personally love the stories of families who open their front door to find groceries or gifts.

In the mad marketing rush that began in September for Home Depot with the Christmas decorations, we can forget the important things, that the holidays, whether it be Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or Boxing Day, all are really about togetherness. Whether that togetherness is with your family of origin or family of choice, being together is what makes the event.

As we speed through this year’s holidays, try to slow down and enjoy the real meaning of it all. Yes, the decorations are nice, and the meal needs to be just right, but remember that the important part is not the superficial stuff, but who was there, and the love you feel.


David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or (310) 664-9969.

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