It’s hard to believe the holiday season is upon us again. Halloween is over and many poor devils started listening to “All I want for Christmas is You” as soon as the clock struck midnight November 1. (This is one reporter who refuses to play Christmas music until Thanksgiving has passed, but that’s just me.) By the time this edition of the paper is out, however, Thanksgiving will have passed, and that means Hometown Family Christmas is coming next.

The Island City will celebrate community Christmas with Santa visits, a chili cook-off, a bazaar, Fill a Cop Car, a parade, and more. The festivities start at 9 a.m. with a pancake breakfast with Santa and silent auction at the Jean Bradford Kline Senior Center, and Santa will also be available at the Eaton Rapids Wesleyan Church and Hastay’s Greenhouse and Flower Shop throughout the day.

This year the newest addition to the Hometown Christmas festivities is the chili cook-off at Riverside Café and Catering. Registration for the cook-off will be open until December 1 and those wishing to participate can register at Riverside. So far there are about 10 people registered, but the Chamber would like to see greater turnout for the event.

Those interested in participating in the Christmas parade are encouraged, though not required, to register on the Eaton Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce website. Those registered online will receive updates on the parade in case there’s inclement weather and the parade is cancelled. Otherwise, the parade is first come, first served. Santa will be in the parade, as well as a surprise Grand Marshal.

Hometown Family Christmas has in many ways become a pride and joy of the Eaton Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. It’s a time of celebration, sentimentality, and Christmas spirit that all small towns want to have.

“It’s a good way to put everyone in the holiday mood,” said Teresa Pienta, the executive director of ERACC. “It’s neighbors giving back to neighbors, a time to reflect on the year, and to be thankful and grateful for the things we have.”

Hometown Family Christmas is one week following Small Business Saturday. Eaton Rapids residents, and hopefully some out-of-towners, will be reminded of the immense potential of the Island City on Small Business Saturday and will file out to Main Street the next weekend to see how that potential plays out in our holiday celebrations.

It is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas finds all of the warmest, most meaningful parts of romance, memories, family, and community. Hometown Family Christmas is a time where families, local business owners, and community organizers can come together to watch a parade and Christmas tree lighting with the same warmhearted hope of the season. It’s a time where childlike delight is okay and welcome for people of all ages. Come out, bring kids and grandkids to see Santa, enjoy some chili and hot chocolate, and sing carols around the tree after the parade.

Readers can find the list of events for Hometown Family Christmas on the front page along with times and locations of each event.