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Are you worn out yet? Did Black Friday feel like you ran two Boston Marathons? And consider this — the holiday season has just begun.

Well, that’s not quite correct. As we all know, the Christmas season begins when the stores devote floor space to decorated, pre-lit trees, white plastic made-to-look-like snow, and too many little Santa replicas to count.

That all began well before Halloween, so it’s not a gigantic stretch to imagine in the not-so-distant future the “Christmas season” will star shortly after the first day of a new year.

That’s not a bad idea, given the overheated political climate. We have a friend who underwent successful heart bypass surgery, after a brush with death around Christmas time a few years back. He and his family decided to keep that year’s tree up and twinkling throughout the next few years. It brought much joy to that household.

The holidays are beautiful, especially for children, but this time of year has the capacity to pile on stress and anxiety. Maybe you witnessed some of that in the wee hours of Friday morning, steeling yourself for the mad rush into a store.

One group of people who feel such stress are the men and women working in those stores during the extended holiday shopping hours. You go in, grab some goodies and wait to check out at the cashier’s station. Then you go home.

Store workers, on the other hand, face seemingly endless hours of tending to the crush of shoppers, whose stress levels are not lost on store employees.

So, on this roses-and-raspberries Saturday, crimson bouquets to the retail heroes who serve us, almost always with a smile.

And, raspberries to stressed-out shoppers who snap at store employees for something that is almost always not the workers’ fault. But in rare instances, bitter fruit to the workers who snap back.

This is, after all, the season of peace, joy and goodwill.


Roses all around to a fine group of community-minded citizens in the Santa Ynez Valley.

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Folks call them “the Vikings” but their official designation is the Vikings of Solvang. Seems fitting, in that Solvang is this hemisphere’s Scandinavian reincarnation, Danish to be more specific.

Officials of the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau have announced the local nonprofit Vikings organization and its members are being honored as the 2017 Julefest Grand Marshals.

The Vikings represent a tradition of caring for the neighbors, especially those with health issues and in need of financial assistance. To serve that cause, the Vikings have donated nearly $3 million since the mid-1970s, all of it going to improve local residents’ lives in some way.

Members of the Vikings of Solvang — also known as Viking Charities Inc. — will be introduced at the Community Tree Lighting event in Solvang Park starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, and members will flip the switch to light the 20-foot Julefest tree that evening. The Vikings will also lead the Solvang Julefest parade the next day, starting at 11 a.m. The parade is a Christmas tradition, and will meander its way through the village.

For folks living outside the Santa Ynez Valley, Julefest festivities are a sight to behold, and well worth the trip to one of mid-county’s jewel-like communities — and that is especially true during this holiday season, when the entire village lights up like a giant Christmas tree.

Roses all around to any community organization that goes that extra mile to make this season bright for everyone.