Growing up as a kid, I always loved to go out and look at Christmas lights or to go to holiday events. At the time, I never thought of what it took to put on these events. I guess I just assumed that they happened easily. As I grew older, I began to notice that it comes down to the efforts of multiple people to get the job done. Whether it was the guy down the street who “over does” the lighting or the town worker who stays late to hang the last wreath.
The more I grew as a person, it became very clear to me that these events and how successful they were, all had to do with the word “community.” This is an interesting word that has been associated with a lot of new things in the modern era but is not always given full value. The old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” was written with this very word in mind. Community is something we all should look to be a part of and grow with; not just for other people’s sake but sometimes for our own.
In order to have a community that thrives, there must be active members willing to share their efforts and resources with others. In 2006, I opened a landscape company in an amazing little town called Duxbury, Massachusetts. As soon as I entered the town I knew I would be staying there a while because it was different. What made it different was the community. At first, I was almost overwhelmed by how much everyone else really cared!
A few years into working in the town and seeing so many people working hard and giving back, I decided it was my turn to join the community. Since I owned SPM Enterprises a tree and landscape company at the time, I decided I would give back by taking care of the trees and landscaping at the local Ashdod fire station throughout the year. The first year started as just mowing, mulching, and maintenance then it began to grow. Soon enough, my company donated a walkway for around the flag pole and seasonal flowers to show the station’s true glory.
One day, I was on a tree removal project and it was nearing the holiday season. I noticed we were scheduled to take down some very large “Christmas” trees. Lucky for me, I owned a 70-foot boom truck and other equipment, so I decided I would donate a tree to the town. We removed the tree at the house, craned it onto a trailer, moved it to the station, and decorated it for the whole town. Soon, after installing the tree, the voicemails from thankful neighbors came rolling in and this is what gave me the fever of community.
As a member of the Duxbury Business Association, three years ago I was asked to join the Holly Days committee. I accepted their offer and that year was the beginning of my history with Holly Days. The event is a town-wide celebration of the holiday season put on by the Duxbury Business Association. There are trolleys that run around town taking you from place to place where there are all sorts of free or discounted events going on. The list includes face painting, magic tricks, music, food, caricatures, sports, hayrides, puppet shows, craft fairs, and so much more.
My job the first year was to sing on the trolley to keep the kids singing and to set up all the trolley stop signs. I had known a lot of the people from this committee before becoming a member but they all really won me over with their enthusiasm for community. One person that will always stick out when talking about Holly Days is my good friend, Anne Antonellis. She is the driving force behind Holly Days and works so hard to keep it all together for everyone.
The next year, I was on the committee again helping to tie up all the loose ends for the event, from hanging signs to collecting information. I was excited because now I had my own shop in town Movementum Realty and could have an event for Holly Days at my place. For my event, I had a craft where the kids made candy cane ornaments with pipe cleaners and beads. The energy was great and I met a lot of local people while their kids really enjoyed the craft. Even though we never spoke of it, we both enjoyed watching them be a part of this fine community. I took all the extra craft supplies the next day to the Bay Farm Montessori Academy and donated them, so their students could enjoy the craft as well. After that day, I knew I needed to be even more involved with Holly Days the following year because it was my link to community.
This year, I was on the committee again but decided I wanted more responsibility. I took on the role of Facebook page administrator, and I am happy to have done so. During the days before Holly Days, I spent my time roaming the town and saying hello to all the business owners taking part in the event. I took photos of different locations, tagging businesses and building the hype of Holly Days. My goal for the Facebook page was to make it popular enough that we no longer need to print the schedule or maps on paper. Once we do that, we can go fully digital and save more trees! This new Facebook effort has been amazing, and if you have not already done so please make sure to like Duxbury Hollys Days page on Facebook. Being a Facebook page administrator has been a fun and interesting job; seeing all the photos and stories of everyone’s Holly Days experience. The best part of this role is that it has shown me that even more community engagement goes on during Holly Days that can be measured by one set of eyes.
For my office Movementum Realty this year, I decided on a snow flake cutting craft using folded paper and scissors. I was not sure how this would go or if the kids would like, but when I was young it was a standard. The funny part was that the kids had a blast and some had never even done it before. I was so happy to see all of them having a great time with such a simple pleasure and their parents enjoyed it too. Again, I had extra supplies so I took them down to the Bay Farm Montessori school and donated them.
It was so amazing to be a part of this year’s Holly Days event and community. I guess what this teaches me is that Holly Days means community to me and I love my community. The world can say what it wants on the news, but the truth is that people are amazing. We are all inherently good and we are all searching for the same things: Happiness, freedom, respect, wisdom, companionship, and some other simple things that make us happy. One thing no one is looking for is more hate or violence, so never believe that. I love people and I am so happy to be a part of this great community. The best way to grow a community that is strong is to join it and lead by example.