Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Chagrin Valley! But, yikes, are you guys ever hard to shop for so we canned the idea 50,000 pairs of slippers or one-size-fits-all PJ bottoms and decided on presents more meaningful.

Besides, the Chagrin Valley is not a “one size fits all” kind of place. But, before the unwrapping begins, we offer our hope that you like what we got you because what is given from the heart is not returnable and re-gifting is impossible.

So gather around, get comfortable and let’s see what we have inside all of these gloriously-wrapped packages set out under our virtual Christmas tree.

Here’s one in a colorful box with a silver ribbon. It is for the GEAUGA PARK DISTRICT BOARD – Look inside and what do you see? Why, Its empty. But not because you were bad boys and girls.

This empty box is a symbol of “nothing.” As in no strife, no controversy and no newspaper headlines. Just peace and, as we say this time of year, good will to all.

CHAGRIN VALLEY JAYCEES’ name is on this oversized tinsel-decked package and we will need their help getting it out from under the tree. But not to worry, helping is what the Jaycees do best.

Wait, it comes with a card. “Dear Jaycees: Merry Christmas but do not open until May and when you do, use caution and stand back because it contains pent-up and ready-to-explode fun and excitement.”

If you guessed this gift is loaded with Blossom Time Festival fun, give yourself a star.

The annual Jaycee--sponsored four-day Memorial Day weekend festival and fund-raiser is dedicated to worthy causes, charities and efforts of non-profit organizations. But, as with so many traditions, Blossom Time has been a no go for two times around the sun due to COVID.

This gift is packed with carnival rides and games, cotton candy, hot air balloon races, the 5K run, parade, Taste of Chagrin food trucks. All the reason Blossom Time is the beloved event it is.

But now what is this? A separately boxed gift marked “faith.” and it will take all our faith that Blossom Time will happen in 2022 and no new variants spoil the fun. And to that we say Buh-bye COVID.

This next gift is a pretty good-sized wooden crate which is going to take a crowbar to open.

Since it is tagged to” the restaurant row redevelopers of West Street,” opening it will be a cinch what with all the construction workers hanging around over there.

And when they do open it, what to their wondering eyes will appear? Cans and cans and cans of “Canary Yellow” paint. We hope they accept our heartfelt gift and use it to paint over all of that new construction as a gracious nod to the historic block and the original collection of buildings collectively known as “Crane’s Canary Cottage” which have been the signature color of yellow since circa 1930.

Perhaps they could slather a coat or two on still-sort-of-yellow centerpiece Inn of Chagrin Falls as well.

Amongst the cans of Canary Yellow are a few paint buckets marked “Revitalization Red.” They are for the outside of the neighboring house, which was fire engine red for many, many years when the place was the Village Exchange antiques, consignment and resale shop.

A sushi restaurant opened there recently and we wish them loads of luck but just to make sure, a coat of red paint wouldn’t hurt. Sushi originated in Japan and in that culture the color red means prosperity.

Here’s a pretty package wrapped in shiny green paper. Its tag reads DOWNTOWN CHAGRIN FALLS. It is filled with return patrons for all of our restaurants, lots and lots of shoppers in every shop even in the dead of January.

We have it on good authority that the boys and girls at the CHAGRIN VALLEY FIRE DEPARTMENT have been very, very good this year and they get the smallest sized package, an envelope. But don’t judge a gift by its wrapping. Inside is a gift certificate made out for “more elbow room” in a long-wished-for addition to their Walnut Street firehouse. With cash in hand, building should start sooner than later.

No, we did not forget the people in blue who also work 24/7, 356 days a year protecting and serving us wherever we may be here in the Chagrin Valley quietly and professionally without making headlines or controversy.

To them and their chiefs of police, we offer gift baskets filled with a commodity very rare to them, with hand-written notes of appreciation from each person they touched this year including letters of gratitude from those they arrested for the learning curve officers helped them climb.

Last but not least are gift bag addressed to the MAVENS OF ART AND CULTURE containing are filled with record-breaking attendance for the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival and standing room only audiences at the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre and for concerts by the Chagrin Falls Studio Orchestra.

The bag contains sold out classes and workshops for the Valley Art Center, interesting ever-before-seen artifacts discovered by the Chagrin Falls Historical Society and Museum and capacity crowds at all of the programs and exhibits staged by the Chagrin Arts organization

One last thing. These last gifts are for all of you who read this column each week and taking the time to send us email and notes thanking or chastising us. It’s all good.

No matter how hard we tried we could not think of how to wrap our thanks to you who choose to pick up and read a real newspaper every week. There are not enough bows and ribbons to put around the gratitude for the confidence you place in our ability to get the facts right and your loyalty when we don’t.

We wish you nothing but love and the warmth of family, good health, happiness, peace of mind and freedom from COVID and all its viral variants.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Barbara Christian has covered the Chagrin Valley since the Johnson administration. Lyndon, not Andrew. She may be reached at: chbarb2@gmail.com

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