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Celebrating the holidays, the Temecula way


Last updated 12/28/2017 at Noon

By the time you read this opinion piece the 2017 Christmas holiday will be a thing of the past, but I need to share what happened to me on Christmas Day, because I was touched by what I experienced.

This year Christmas was a little bit different in our household, and frankly, I was super excited about it, I mean who doesn’t want to try something new, right?

For the first time in my 51 years on this planet, I didn’t celebrate Christmas with my family Dec. 25. Due to our busy schedules and three of the four people living in my house, having to work on Christmas, we held our family celebration Dec. 24.

Nothing really changed but the date. We still opened presents. We still stuffed ourselves with everything from Christmas ham to my all-time favorite pecan pie. We laughed ourselves silly as we spent the day together, playing board games and sharing our stories of Christmas past. It was, as always, amazing. The only thing missing this year was volunteering at a local holiday dinner with the family, and yes, I did miss that part of our family celebration.

However, I found something to fill the gap by volunteering to work on Christmas Day, so the rest of the Reeder Media staff could enjoy their time with friends and family on this holiest of days.

Every year in Temecula, there is a Community Christmas dinner presented by local rotary clubs and the city. I’ve never attended this event, but this year, since we had a change of plans in how we celebrate the holiday, I was home alone and free to attend, and boy am I glad I did.

People came out in droves for the occasion, enjoying camaraderie an of course, the excellent dinner prepared by the volunteers from three Rotary clubs – Temecula Sunrise Rotary, Temecula (noon) Rotary and the Temecula Valley-New Generation Club and representatives from the city of Temecula who served up a fully cooked meal of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables and dessert.

I saw everyone from Santa Claus himself to city officials and those who are struggling to make ends meet came together at the Mary Phillips Senior Center in Old Town Temecula. There was plenty of holiday cheer with laughter and the sharing of stories among friends and strangers that cannot be rivaled, and it was amazing!

I want to give a huge shoutout to everyone who made this event possible. It was truly amazing to see those who volunteered give up their time and efforts on the holiday to ensure that the entire community was fed Christmas dinner and given the opportunity to meet new people and share in fellowship with one another, no matter what their political views or religious backgrounds. I am so thankful everyone in my house had to work, giving me the opportunity to attend.

Mark Sitar, president of the Temecula Sunrise Rotary Club and co-chair of the event said that the tradition is an important one for the city and one that embraces the holiday spirit.

“This is for anyone who wants a place to go on Christmas Day,” he said. “It is a simple concept that touches people throughout our community.”

Sitar gets it and fortunately for me, so do I.

linkI was touched by the way the community all came together for this great event, so much so that I plan on doing this with my entire family next year.

The next time you have the opportunity to attend or better yet, volunteer at one of Temecula’s community events, I would recommend you do so. If all their events are like the Community Christmas Dinner, you are in for a rare treat.

But hey, it’s only my opinion.


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