A little bit about a lot of things:

• The holiday season has officially arrived, as next week we celebrate Thanksgiving with Christmas to follow in just a few weeks.

The season is special in so many ways, and often for individual, personal reasons and memories.

In some ways Thanksgiving is actually one of my favorite holidays, both for the memories it brings and because it seems less commercialized.

True, Thanksgiving is linked with Black Friday.....which has actually become more like Black-Two-Weeks-Leading-Up-To-The-Friday-After-Thanksgiving, but I link the sales frenzy to the commercialization of Christmas rather than to the celebration of Thanksgiving.

No, I think Thanksgiving is preferable in many ways....late autumn seems a perfect setting for the holiday, there is no gift-giving pressure, and really Thanksgiving is a deeply personal holiday in that we all have unique things in our life for which we are grateful.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy and appreciate Christmas as well, as a celebration of faith, family and fellowship.....perhaps, though, Thanksgiving is well-timed as an opportunity to take stock and gain perspective on that which is truly important before we shift into the Christmas spirit.

• Speaking of Christmas spirit.....that won’t be far behind Thanksgiving in our communities.

Gustine will celebrate its annual “Old-Fashioned Christmas” next Saturday, Nov. 30, with a full day of festivities that start with a community breakfast with Santa and go through early evening, when a tree-lighting ceremony and colorful lighted Christmas parade bring the day to a close.

In Newman, the city and Chamber of Commerce are planning downtown Christmas festivities for Saturday, Dec. 7, from 3-7 p.m. The event includes photos with Santa, a tree-lighting, crafts, a lighted parade and much more.

And, Gustine’s Christmas in the Park festivities will be held Wednesday evening, Dec. 18, in Henry Miller Park. More to come on each of those events in upcoming editions.

Those Christmas celebrations have become part of our community fabric through the years, bringing people together in the spirit of the season. Seeing community members lining the street for the Christmas parades, gathering for the tree-lighting, enjoying hot chocolate and s’mores on a crisp December evening in Miller Park.....those are scenes of small-town Christmas at its best.

• On one final holiday note (at least for this week), the season is also a time for the community to lend a helping hand to those less fortunate.

Through a variety of toy, food and clothing drives, we have the opportunity to share in our good fortune by helping those who are struggling.

Again, more to come on those opportunities, but please consider reaching out to help brighten the holidays for those in need in coming weeks.

That, too, is part of the spirit of the season.

• Being noticed is not always a good thing in my line of work....and being the subject of attention has never really been my thing (I try to be invisible, actually, which isn’t easy for a big guy carrying a camera, laptop or both).

But I was honored recently to be one of 25 statewide recipients of the California School Board Association’s Golden Quill awards, presented last week at the GUSD board meeting by Dr. Bryan Ballenger, district superintendent.

The award is bestowed in recognition of fair, insightful and accurate reporting on public education.

Schools are a focal point in our communities, and we strive to cover them thoroughly and fairly. That sometimes involves reporting on challenges faced by local education, but also celebrates the many good things that are happening in the classrooms and on the campuses of the Gustine Unified and Newman-Crows Landing Unified school districts.

No recognition is necessary, but I am nonetheless greatly appreciative.

• And finally....some words of wisdom from Facebook posts....a couple of my favorites from the past week or so.

“Common sense is a flower that doesn’t grow in everybody’s garden.”

“I don’t have a favorite place. I have my favorite people. And whenever I am with my favorite people it becomes my favorite place.”

I’m not a big Facebook fan....but it does occasionally make you think, doesn’t it?

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.