Stay true to spirit of season

After a final burst of last-minute shopping and other preparations, area residents will settle in for their traditional holiday observances – some solemn, some mostly celebratory, or a mixture of both – with members of their families and in some cases other visitors.

However, beyond the joy and happiness of the holidays, there are things to keep in mind for these days between now and the end of this joyous time of the year. Safety is one of the things at the top of the list.

Avoid driving after having consumed alcoholic beverages. Having a designated driver who refrains from drinking offers the best chance of ensuring the safety of travelers as well as pedestrians. It’s an old reminder, but that one common-sense consideration can avoid tragedy.

The same is true for those taking medications that could have an adverse effect on driving. If a prescription bottle says to refrain from operating a motor vehicle while taking the medication, let someone else drive.

Everyone should celebrate this holiday season with the goal of being around to enjoy many future holidays.

Now that the pre-holiday rush is winding down, area residents, most of whom are abundant with generosity, caring and compassion, should pause to consider how they can make the holidays brighter for someone less fortunate.

Some people – elderly and otherwise – will be alone this Christmas and would be grateful for a holiday meal or gift delivered by a neighbor or even a good-will visit.

Meanwhile, Christmas will be lonely for some wives and children because of a spouse and father being away serving his country, in some instances at an overseas base or in a war zone. Some kind gesture on behalf of those families on Christmas Day or in the coming week would help in further cementing Altoona’s reputation as a desirable place to live, work and raise a family.

As time permits, enjoy the brightness and colors of the holidays, made possible by the hard work and other efforts of people throughout this region. There are many beautiful holiday displays that deserve to be seen, photographed and remembered.

Some parents, jokingly or not-so-jokingly, will be heard remarking that they’ll be happy when the holidays are over and their children return to school. Such sentiments are unfortunate. Like adults, children have responsibilities during the holiday season and, although filled with excitement, should give their parents and visitors the gift of a holiday without disruptions resulting in household friction.

Finally, on this last day before the big day, it’s not too late to make another contribution at a Salvation Army kettle – or write a check to that worthy agency, to Catholic Charities or any of the other agencies that do exemplary work in this community and beyond, all year long.

Consider such contributions money well spent.

For many, a large part of today will continue the holiday rush and preparations in which they have been engaged for weeks. Once the preparation gives way to the holiday itself, everyone should focus on making this Christmas one to be remembered, for all of the right reasons.