Many of the stores started putting up their holiday displays and laying out holiday gift merchandise in late October and early November. But that just doesn’t mean much to me anymore until I actually see the lights up on the community holiday tree in Stevenson Ranch. This year, I hope that the tree, which is nearly dead, doesn’t burst into flames from those lights.

On Saturday, December 3rd, the Stevenson Ranch Community Association will host the annual holiday tree lighting event. It will be complete with snow, Santa, and of course the festive lighting of the now near dead tree. Once that happened, it seemed like many residents started putting up lights and decorations on their homes. We even put a lighted wreath on our front door, which is more than most years.

It is seeing the lights strung on homes that gives me the holiday spirit. Just to clarify, that would be lights and decorations on other people’s homes. I’m not one to lavishly decorate the outside of my home, other than the wreath of course. But I do enjoy the spirit of the holiday season.

As for the stores, I avoid the malls, especially this time of year.  In fact, I honestly cannot remember the last time I was in one. It has been that long. Primarily because I tend to go to local small businesses more and I do much of my shopping online as well. It is just a much more pleasant experience going into local shops and knowing the owners. The online shopping is gratifying because you can usually find items in stock and with little hassle.  

Online shopping is the trend as the mall parking lots are not nearly as crammed as they had been in years past; but still busy. Do you really want to go to a mall and circle the parking lot looking for a space? Over the Thanksgiving weekend, someone was shot to death over a parking spot at the mall.  But if you brave the parking lot, do you really want to spend time rifling through merchandise only to find that they don’t have your size? That is what the typical mall experience has been like in past years.

As I said, shopping online and visiting the local small businesses is a better experience. It is much more convenient and less stressful. I can shop anytime I want and the goods are delivered right to my door. Why would anyone want to do anything else?

The news reported that online sales have continued to increase incrementally again this year. The so-called black Friday for brick and mortar stores was not as bad this year with the economy improving slightly. People appear to be smarter about how and when they shop.

This year do yourself and your community a favor, visit the local small businesses and stay away from the malls. There are plenty of independent businesses all around SCV and you’ll have a more enjoyable experience. The local mom & pop shops are really the lifeblood of any community and they are the ones that impact the local economy. The malls on the other hand are filled with national and regional chains that are just pulling money out of the community. The shopping experience at the malls is just not that pleasant anymore.

Besides, don’t you have enough stuff already? I had this conversation with my family and we have all agreed to a minimal number of gifts this year and are going to opt for spending much more time together. That is really what the holidays are all about; spending time with loved ones.

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on a number of boards and councils. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.