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S.C.V. History
October 3
1918 - Box-office superstar William S. Hart promotes 4th series of Liberty Loan (World War I) bonds, which went on sale Sept. 28 [story]
William S. Hart

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktie“What happened to Thanksgiving?” “Why are Christmas decorations up already?” “Is the City Council just plain crazy?”

Let’s put this in perspective, folks: There is a brutal war in the Middle East that has beheading people as a prime method of “sending a message.” Gunmen kill at least four people in a synagogue in Jerusalem. The governor of Missouri has activated the National Guard anticipating violence in Ferguson and possibly St. Louis. Chiquita Canyon Landfill is accepting toxic waste and paying off agencies and organizations in our little valley, claiming the dump is a good neighbor. The Cemex problem still looms. And Christmas decorations are up in Old Town Newhall.

OMG. Stop the presses. Spreading a little joy and merriment is now wrong?

Nothing has happened to Thanksgiving. It still occupies the same spot on the calendar. We are not going to forget it, either. It is still a day of prayer and thanksgiving to God. Oh, no. Did I say “God?” You bet.

So we’re going to limit Thanksgiving and Christmas to a certain period of time on a calendar originally established by the Romans and modified by a Roman Catholic pope? I don’t remember anyone requiring the joy of both holidays to be confined to a single month or week or day.

Just why do folks want to complain that decorations up “too soon” ruin another holiday? How about we celebrate both occasions every day? Putting up some decorations in Newhall is most appropriate.

Fact is, Christians really don’t know when Jesus was born. We aren’t sure of the year, let alone the month and the date. The fact for billions of people on this Earth is that He was born. It is an event of great joy. Makes me want to celebrate every day of the year.

xmas2014lightsBefore we worry about “Christmas creep” and wonder if soon all holidays following Labor Day will be swallowed by Christmas, let’s remember the joy. Do we forget Veterans Day? No. Thanksgiving? No. The joy of Christmas? No, not at all.

Someone stated that it would be cheaper to give each business in downtown Newhall $20,000 and let them decorate or do whatever with the money. Well, guess what? That person has never been to Newhall. Can’t have been there. Her method would cost the city over a half-million dollars. Guess she thinks there are fewer than five shops in all of downtown Newhall, because she said $100,000 for the decorations was too much.

Commercialization of Christmas? Hey, that cow left the barn years ago. Look at movies. Remember the old version of “Miracle on 34th Street” from 1947? It was about a department-store Santa. Yep, the good old days were selling Christmas – but were they?

The lyrics to a Christmas song state, “We need a little Christmas” – and we do. We need a lot of it right now.

I love to see the decorations up in Newhall. My life isn’t going the way I had planned. One thing that makes me laugh is to know what I had planned must make God laugh all the more. My plans provide Him with a lot of laughter, I’m sure.

You see, the job I wanted I am now medically disqualified from, because the glaucoma I have has advanced in my right eye. That goes along with my diabetes. At least I am still decreasing my weight. So Monday, after a training session I no longer need, I was driving back through Newhall and saw the decorations. My spirits were lifted just a little – well, a lot.

It brought back memories of shopping in Newhall for what little I could buy my sisters, mother and father, and others, as gifts. Store windows had Christmas scenes painted on them, many with very religious content. Most places would wrap those gifts and make sure I got the tags made out before I forgot. In the background, all manner of Christmas carols could be heard.

Yes, those memories were from times just after Thanksgiving, but what does it matter? Yesterday I needed to see those decorations. My life has taken a turn in a direction I’m not sure of and am just a little afraid about.

I regret I didn’t attend the lighting event for downtown Newhall. I was too busy preparing for the class I just had and, by the way, passed. I am once again a certified radar observer. Don’t have a need for it now.

Some say the decorations are going up too soon and cost too much. Others say the city should own them and have city workers take a week to put them up. There are those who don’t think they should go up at all. Well, having heard the debate of the last two years, it turns out the city looked at the alternatives. A professional company is cheaper, and we get the lights and decorations for a longer period. Using city workers who have far too many other things to do isn’t really an option, since the cost of the workers and the decorations would be nearly double.

But let me tell you: For me and a lot of other people, those decorations did the job Monday night. They gave me hope that all was going to be well in my life. I was able to realize that the “problem” of decorations going up before Thanksgiving was a very small and insignificant one.

Yes, Monday night was a pretty horrible evening until I drove through Newhall, roundabout and all. We all need a little Christmas. I’m ready for Thanksgiving now. My grandkids are coming. I’m going to Disneyland with them next week, so I’ve got another Christmas before Thanksgiving coming up.

Just in case you didn’t know, Disneyland has had Christmas decorations up for nearly a month. Where are the protests about that?

Am I being selfish about the Newhall decorations’ effect on me? Yes, a little. I’ll bet there are many like me who can use a little Christmas all year long. In fact, I know there are a lot of folks who need it.

Forget the dates on the calendar. Forget the debate about decorations. Feel what is in your heart and not your head. Yes, Merry Christmas, folks. Go to Newhall to see the lights. Stop for dinner at any of the restaurants. (No chain restaurants in downtown Newhall.) Toast a little and enjoy the Christmas spirit.

Don’t eat too much, because you don’t want to spoil the forgotten holiday – Thanksgiving.


Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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  1. Cathy says:

    I totally agree with you Darryl.
    The one thing people over look when complaining about decorations being up too early is, it takes lots of time and volunteers to make it look nice. I have already been decorating for Christmas Open House at the Historical Society (since Nov.8th). The Open House is Dec. 6th. That leaves me only a few weekends to decorate. To all of those complainers about Thanksgiving being forgotten… you are dead wrong. As a retired grocery worker, Thanksgiving is not forgotten in the least. That is the busiest time of the year for us. Because every American celebrates Thanksgiving, and not all celebrate Christmas. The worst thing about the holidays is the big corporations keep their business open. Thanksgiving and Christmas WERE mandatory days off. Now most places seem to be open (greed). I hated to work one minute of Thanksgiving and Christmas. (yes, I was the grumpy cashier forced to work on Thanksgiving) So put up the decorations early, they make me smile too.

  2. Karina Diaz Karina Diaz says:

    The world has become such a hard and difficult place, there’s nothing wrong with putting up decorations and spreading joy! :)

  3. Steve Petzold says:

    The photo reminds me that the city still has not credited George Massie for the quotation on the window that appears over the Christmas Tree.

  4. Steve Petzold says:

    It has been a year since Ken Striplin told me that credit would be given, as of about a month ago I failed to see it. For a short time they wrote his name on a piece of paper and put it on the 1st floor wall.

  5. nicely written Darryl……happy holidays to you and yours

  6. Jeanne says:

    I love the Christmas decorations too. I just don’t like to see them before Halloween!
    Before Thanksgiving is fine.

    I do like Thanksgiving decorations though and my house is decorated inside and out for that holiday first, then Christmas goes up the on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

    I wish some of the shopping malls would update their tired faded decorations in the parking lots though.

  7. Ray Soto Ray Soto says:

    For how politically correct people are about Christmas, I’m just happy there’s decorations going up at all.

  8. Sharon Ventrice says:

    Darryl, I LOVE Christmas decorations, no matter when they go up. I have a little fiber optics Christmas tree plugged into my computer 365 days a year… so shame on me? And MERRY CHRISTMAS! I will be praying for you for returning health. Hope you get a chance to join us at the Veterans Historical Plaza at 6PM on December 7th for the Military Honor Christmas Tree Lighting!It has pictures of Veterans and Active Military all over it and we’d love to have your picture there as well. Send one to prayerangelsforthemilitary@yahoo.com and we will put you on the Christmas Tree!!
    Great article! Thanks.

  9. Terry says:

    loved this article…That you.And thank you for mentioning GOD. Without HIM,Im sunk…Merry Thanksgiving and Happy Christmas…Oh wait..Reverse that, or does it really matter :)

  10. I loved this article. And Thanks for mentioning GOD. Without HIM Im sunk!!

  11. Jeannie Fay Jeannie Fay says:

    I love this article.

  12. Steve Petzold says:

    The unmentioned issue is that it is really Holiday creep masquerading around as Christmas. Why does the City have to underwrite a light show on Main St ?

  13. Eli Diaz Eli Diaz says:

    Awwww my city, miss you :’)

  14. Eli Diaz Eli Diaz says:

    Awwww my city, miss you :’)

  15. Eli Diaz Eli Diaz says:

    Awwww my city, miss you :’)

  16. Silvie Faust Silvie Faust says:

    God bless america and our city beautiful tree.

  17. Silvie Faust Silvie Faust says:

    God bless america and our city beautiful tree.

  18. This article is hilariously off point. Christmas can kiss my booty until the day AFTER Thanksgiving. Period.

  19. This article is hilariously off point. Christmas can kiss my booty until the day AFTER Thanksgiving. Period.

  20. <3! What a great perspective and reminder.

  21. Paolo Odone Paolo Odone says:

    happy holidays to you!

  22. Horrible things will continue to happen until God Almighty says “Enough” Then Jesus

  23. Evelyne Vandersande says:

    I was there when the lights went on for the first time and it was magical. Just enjoy the beauty, come in the evening to see the lights and live in the moment. Being happy even for a little while is a pretty good way to live.

  24. It is time that Thanksgiving be given the respect it deserves. Seriously. The city council needs to review the history of this United States.

  25. Relax Darryl, it’s holiday time. Focus on happy thoughts. Sing a song. Eat pie. Buy a present for someone for no reason except to make them happy. Stores are hiring people, selling a bunch of stuff no one needs and paying city taxes. That keeps you working too. Say a prayer and be kind.

  26. Sharon Ventrice says:


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