Happy Holidays! The word “holiday” derives from the Middle English holidai, and the Old English halig daeg, both meaning holy day. Since Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, and New Year’s Day now observes the Solemnity of Mary in the Catholic Church, both holy days, it is very appropriate to wish everyone Happy Holidays, as has been a faith-based custom for centuries. For some, Merry Christmas is the preferred greetings but, since our very diverse community practices many faiths – Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hindu, Buddhism, and more – Happy Holidays is a greeting of good wishes to everyone, regardless of tenet or belief.
Generosity is a hallmark of this time of year. Fairfax County is considered wealthy by most surveys, but there is great need amidst the wealth. An estimated 60,000 men, women, and children in our county fall below the level established by federal poverty guidelines. Some families cannot afford the kind of holiday meals most of us enjoy; rent and utility bills exceed the income available; and jobs may be few and far between. Faith-based and non-profit organizations s-t-r-e-t-c-h donated dollars to serve as many people as they can, now and year-round. Let’s all dig a little deeper, and support a favorite charity with a cash donation. You can be sure those dollars will go f-a-r! And your donation by December 31 can be claimed as a tax deduction on your 2013 income tax return.
Last week, I attended a holiday dinner for families at the Willston Multicultural Center, sponsored by the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce. Traditional Christmas carols were sung, in both English and Spanish, along with a bilingual recitation of the Christmas story. One little boy decided to “conduct” the informal choir, and soon there were four little boys conducting! It was great fun for children and adults alike. The Philippine American Chamber operates a monthly food pantry (thank you, Chamber members), and participating families took home bright holiday bags filled with non-perishable food at the end of the evening.
Metrobus has provided a late holiday gift to residents of the Culmore area. When the Region II Human Services Center moved from the Seven Corners area to Annandale last year, some clients of the center found that the existing bus service created very long trips and transfers for them and their children. In response to petitions from riders and support from my office during the past year, Metrobus announced last week an adjusted bus route between Culmore and Annandale that may solve some of the very long wait times. Beginning December 29, the 26A bus will travel hourly from the East Falls Church Metro station, along Roosevelt Blvd. and Leesburg Pike, through Culmore and onto Columbia Pike and Little River Turnpike, all the way to the Northern Virginia Community College campus, and return, with no change of bus. No bus transfers will be necessary for the new service.
May you enjoy the peace of the season, and the warmth of family and friends during this special time.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at email@example.com.