Editorial – No need to panic

Chris Clegg

There will be no Christmas tree in Churchill Square in Edmonton this holiday season.
So, should the good people in High Prairie, McLennan, Falher and Peace River be concerned about their holiday traditions?
Not likely, thank goodness!
Edmonton’s Downtown Business Association (DBA) holds Holiday Light-Up in Edmonton. They are moving festivities to Rice Howard Way to help restaurants and retailers in that area. They add there was little value to businesses in erecting a tree in Churchill Square. “Little value” meaning economic activity. Ah, the almighty dollar rules!
It must be made clear there was no complaint about erecting and decorating a Christmas tree involving a “Christian holiday” which prompted the decision. No fanatical religious group opposing Christmas is behind this decision. It would have been shameful if it occurred. People of all religions should be tolerant and respectful of other religions.
The DBA’s decision based on economics may be the case in Edmonton but there is little similarity with their plight and Peace Country communities. We are much smaller than Edmonton, and any event such as High Prairie Light-Up, Moonlight Madness in Falher and Peace River, and more, will attract people. We are not sprawling cities. Instead, we can hold events which draw people into a concentrated area. It is a short drive to go shopping or attend events no matter where they are held.
What is bothersome is the DBA’s decision appears to be based purely on economics. Is there not Christmas cheer to be extended to putting up and decorating a tree? Can we not bring joy into other people’s lives without the worry of making a profit?
In McLennan, they hold Light-Up each year. This year’s it is Dec. 3. There are not a lot of businesses in McLennan but there is a volunteer group(s) who do an amazing job putting up decorations.
In High Prairie, as their chamber reorganizes, there was no Christmas promotion or Moonlight Madness this season. It did not stop the High Prairie Community Beautification Association and Town of High Prairie from putting up lights in the middle of town as they have done for 20+ years.
Had McLennan and High Prairie shared the Edmonton DBA’s attitude, there would be “dark” days ahead this winter, no pun intended. Efforts made to brighten up these towns is not based purely on economics.
Decorating for Christmas brings one benefit not many realize. The lights do improve the mood and mental health of people. It can be pretty dreary being in the dark for such a long period of time. Christmas lights do bring cheer, they make most people happy (yes, there still is the odd Scrooge!) and overall mental health improves. There is value in that. More than most even realize.
There is no great outcry to take down the decorations and lights in North Peace and South Peace communities. Christmas is not under siege here or in Edmonton, despite the fact there is no tree in Churchill Square.
Enjoy the lights and decorations, everyone, and do not worry. They are not going anywhere!

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