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IN OUR OPINION

" IN OUR OPINION Bah, humbug   There are nights when the long commute home from the Bainbridge ferry dock to North Kitsap can be slow, frustrating, and well, just plain depressing in the winter. Just as it feels like youÕll never get to the bridge, a reindeer, SantaÕs sleigh and a host of welcoming Christmas scenes appear in the clearing of houses on your right at Seabold. The lights offer a moment of cheer, a friendly greeting given annually by a group of neighbors to the unknown commuters streaming past. The Bainbridge neighbors been putting those lights up for 20 years or so now. And frankly, during the first week after Thanksgiving when they turn them on, there have been a few accidents as rubberneckers are hit from behind by less attentive drivers. And yes, the traffic does slow slightly as people pause from their focused trek home to smile and gaze at the friendly scene. The delay was enough to prompt one nameless (shame on you) person to put a letter in the mailboxes of the neighborhood light builders, asking them to turn their holiday lights on only after 8 p.m. so commuters wouldnÕt be delayed. In all the years of putting lights up, this is the first complaint the neighbors have ever had. And, wisely, the neighbors ignored it and are still turning the lights on early enough for every commuter and visitor to enjoy them. Spreading cheer through the long, dark days is a tradition carried out throughout North Kitsap. A drive through any neighborhood will have you ÒoohingÓ in delight at the ambitious lighted creations. Even the governing bodies are into the holiday spirit. Poulsbo has a lighted tree in Waterfront Park. Kingston and Port Gamble are lighting their downtowns this weekend to welcome visitors. Next weekendÕs lighted boat parade will be held, as will the annual neighborhood trips Santa takes by fire engine. We are fortunate in North Kitsap to have neighbors who go to the trouble of lighting their homes and businesses, and finding other caring ways to share their holiday joy with us. Their gifts reminds us that we are a community, not just isolated houses or people. If you are one of the people who has brightened a dark night for your neighbors, thank you. And if youÕre in too much of a hurry to slow down even slightly to enjoy the beauty, you might want to consider trying it.   Remember the Sharing Trees A child is waiting for a gift you can provide. In addition to the Bellringer fund drive, Christmas gifts for North Kitsap children are also being requested on the Sharing Trees at Bank of America and Frontier Bank on Jensen Way. According to organizers, about 75 children benefit each year from this eleven year-old program. Gift requests are listed on the tags hanging from the trees. Interested donors are asked to remove the tag from the tree, purchase and wrap the requested gift, and return it with the tag to the bank. The banks get the gifts to the kids. ItÕs simple, and it brings the joy of the season to children. If you have any questions, contact Judy Bethea at 297-2740. "

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