Downtown for the Holidays parade

People sing from a trolley during the Downtown for the Holidays parade in Sioux City on Nov. 20.

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal

The holiday season is under way.

For many, Thanksgiving was the start of the shopping frenzy, followed by "Black Friday," "Cyber Monday," and I do not know what else. Parents want their children to have Christmas memories that will be remembered and cherished, so it's understandable why people get so stressed and why overspending can result. For some, stress leads to overeating and weight gain. (Maybe that's why I don't like being home, I want to eat the goodies.)

I'm surprised at my friends who love to get up in the middle of the night to go shopping and have a strategy to get the gifts they have scoped out beforehand. I am completely the opposite; I look for stores that are not jammed with thousands of people vying for the same gifts. I prefer the stores in which I can get personal attention and will wrap my gifts because I'm not good at that. Mom tried to teach me, but it didn't take. Making a list, sticking to it and checking it off works best for me, I can do all of my shopping in one afternoon in two or three stores. For me, the list is the key.

I enjoy seeing little kids' eyes light up when they see Santa Claus, they are so excited to tell him what they want for Christmas. I remember feeling that way when I was their age. Certainly, I told Santa how good I had been; my parents probably told a different story.

All of the activity downtown with the parade and turning the holiday lights on brings back fond memories of the hustle and bustle during my childhood. One year Santa arrived in a rubber-tire sleigh; as a child I thought that was the neatest thing possible. And Santa knew my dad. How cool was that? He came to the house for dinner that night, I was in seventh heaven. I could hardly wait for show-and tell at school.

Of course, the spirit of the holidays is much more then Santa or what am I getting or giving for Christmas.

With all of the excitement, sometimes we forget what the true meaning of Christmas is. However, I believe all of the bad things that have occurred this year will bring us together as a community and we will remember those who are not as fortunate. We will pray for those who lost loved ones to violence, those who lost their lives because of a horrific hurricane, tornado, accident, or flood, or who lost all of their memories and belongings in a fire. Many Americans have already given in some way to these victims - for that, you are to be thanked.

In Siouxland, we are supportive of our neighbors as well as people who are not our neighbors by giving generously. We need to get others to follow our example across the country. We need to help our law enforcement stop violence right here in our area. Think about all of the heinous crimes that have been inflicted on people in our area in the past year; it's unconscionable.

Earlier in the article, I mentioned personal attention is important to all of us. We all want to know we are appreciated and loved. Tell your friends and relatives you love them, tell your neighbors you appreciate them. Check in on elderly or handicapped neighbors, let them know they can count on you. A smile, a thank you or opening a door are kind gestures that go a long way to making people feel good. Small things lead to big things and help us get our collective arms around looming issues.

It is proven that one small act of kindness leads to another. We need to find a way to make those who are not civil to one another realize anger and violence do not resolve issues, they only make them escalate.

Let's make this the best Christmas ever and end the year on a positive note. Happy holidays, everyone. May 2018 be a year full of good health, happiness and prosperity.

Next week: Al Sturgeon

Charese Yanney of Sioux City is owner and managing partner of Guarantee Roofing, Siding and Insulation Co. She serves on the Iowa Department of Transportation Commission, the Iowa Economic Development Authority Vision Iowa board, the Missouri River Historical Development board and the Siouxland Initiative Executive Committee.

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