Saturday offered a slew of ways to celebrate community and the season right here in the Upper Valley. Seemingly every other car had a conifer atop it. On the drive home Friday, there didn't seem to be nearly as many lights on bushes, houses, and hedges as there were Saturday at 4:30pm. Santa hats were perched unselfconsciously on heads in Hanover, Lebanon, and Norwich.
Woodstock was ready with breakfast with Saint Nick or a Christmas concert. The Pageant was going down in Lyme. A free screening of Home Alone solved a lot of parental "What should I do with my kids?" questions. A wicked Norwich holiday market. Who could hate a chowderfest in White River? Little elves toiled at a workshop in Wilder. Goodly folks went to the giving fair in Bradford. In Claremont, there were pictures with the portly gentlemen who always wears red and white.
It was an avalanche of good feelings.
The 19 Days of Norwich and Beyond jumped in with both feet, offering all sorts of chances to kill several birds with a single stone. A crafts fair donated a portion of proceeds to the Haven. Budding and established ornithologists went on a bird walk along the Connecticut River, for the same cause. And at the Norwich Congregational Church, people gathered for the ultimate anxiety eraser: grilled cheese and tomato soup, with all donations to benefit the Haven.
The citizenry was out in full force, of course. The tables were full, and included a Congressman, a principal, a Main Street resident, several business owners, a state representative, small children, and people with considerably more life experience than them. Across the generations, the conversation generated smiles, laughter, and the serene satisfaction that comes from what is perhaps the pinnacle of culinary comfort. White or wheat, it didn't matter: the sandwiches were perfect. One attendee noted that the soup "had just the right amount of salt." The Ledyard bank employees who organized, cooked, and served the meal seemed to glide through the room of good vibes.
Over by the donation bowl, mountains of cash accumulated to benefit our Upper Valley neighbors. No one seemed to pay the slightest attention to what others were giving; it was an intensely personal choice, made freely, with the hope that another might feel the warmth of this community on a cold December day.
Tomorrow, the 19 Days go international for inspiration...
19-9=10 to go!
Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of The Jack & Dorothy Byrne Foundation, all 19 Days donations will be matched dollar for dollar up to $125,000. Make sure to label your donation as "19 Days" in order to get the matching funds.
For the 19 Days Pet Contest, click here
For the 19 Days Auction, click here
To make a donation directly to the Haven, click here
For background on the 19 Days, click here
N.B. We are using Dan & Whit's as the umbrella posting organization, but the stories will come from all over the area. For a list of participating businesses and organizations, click here