Christmas parades are a recent phenomenon

Langley City and Cloverdale parades a hit; it's Aldergrove's turn this weekend.

It’s that busy time of year, but at the same time, people are definitely getting into the Christmas spirit.

Nowhere was this more obvious than at the Langley City Christmas parade on Saturday night, which attracted thousands of people to the downtown area. A parade the next night in Cloverdale also attracted huge crowds and created one of the few traffic jams ever seen there.

Christmas parades are a more recent phenomenon in this part of the world. When I was young, the only one I’d ever heard of was in distant Toronto, which might as well have been in Africa or on Mars, considering how likely my chances of going there to see it were.

There are now parades in many Lower Mainland communities, with most of them taking place after dark. This of course allows the Christmas lights to show up more intensely, and it is the bright lights which seem to be of the most interest to the younger parade watchers.

The Langley City and Cloverdale parades (and there is also one this weekend in Aldergrove; it begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday) attract a huge number of  families with younger children. It’s a chance for kids to see the lights and get a sense of the season.

Another popular activity is to visit some of  the more spectacular Christmas light displays. The Times regularly lists those that people tell us about. A list appears on page 32 of this issue.

People who wish to let us know about additional displays can e-mail the details to entertainment@langleytimes.com or drop off details at the office, 20258 Fraser Highway.

Another popular Langley activity at this time of year is a visit to one of the many Christmas tree farms, and a chance to cut your own tree (or in some cases, take a live one home). Many of the farms have unique themes, and a visit can turn into a half-day of adventure.

And while shopping is an important part of the Christmas season, and businesses look forward to what is usually one of their most profitable times of the year,  it’s also important to remember to dig a little deeper and help out the many charities which make life in this community so much better.

The best-known and likely the most efficient in ensuring that nobody misses out on Christmas is the Langley Christmas Bureau, headed up by Times columnist Jim McGregor.  There are still  plenty of chances to get involved in helping out.

It’s also important not to forget the food bank and the Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope, which has done a remarkable job in helping some of the most needy people in our community. The Salvation Army Christmas kettles can be  found at many locations this month, and one visit to the Gateway of Hope is enough to convince almost anyone of the value of the work they do.

There are many other worthy charities. Many churches and other organizations are helping out people they know of who need assistance, and other organizations which raise funds all year long appreciate the extra generosity of donors at this time of year.

At its most basic, Christmas is about giving, not getting. Giving to others, even in the most simple ways, ensures that the Christmas spirit is  alive and well in Langley.

Langley Times