201030KFP6961-Stephanie (3).jpg

Stephanie Bonin

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

When I was a kid the holiday season meant extra hours at The Book Cellar, the bookstore at 120 Main St. that my family owned. We would hire an additional holiday team, we would stock countless copies of the Vermont Life calendar, and Archer Mayor’s newest book would surely be the top seller. But my favorite was the table piled high in the middle of the store of holiday cards. This was before Shutterfly and email and before a quick text of holiday cheer would suffice. That tradition of sitting down night after night to write, address and stamp your holiday card. While my role was simply an assistant to my mom, the picking out of the cards was all mine! And then on New Year’s Day it was also my responsibility to move all of those cards down to the big giant bankers vault in the basement that we used for storage. I would stack them neatly in rows knowing it would be me who would pull them and pile them high the following year. I loved it all.

That is the funny thing about traditions: they are ours for the making and they tend to be created when we least look for them. But, I find the common thread is a feeling of warmth and connection that they bring to our bodies when we flash back in time. What is the tradition you connect with this year or what will the new one be that you create?

Many years ago as the antidote to Black Friday — Plaid Friday started. The goal was to encourage holiday shoppers to slow down and shop locally at small businesses rather than the frenzy of Black Friday, the rush at big box retailers. This Friday, November 26, Downtown Brattleboro is going plaid. What does that mean? It means out with the big box stores, bring it back to small, and go with local. No camping out at Best Buy or Walmart, no refreshing your website browser, get dressed by throwing on a flannel and hit Downtown. Music on the streets, gifts to find in the stores, sit on a stoop and people watch or stand around the fire pit in Pliny Park. Plus on November 27 start following #giftbratt to check in on the local online gift guide that the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance (DBA) is curating each day

The following weekend, join us on December 3 at 5 p.m. for the annual DBA tree lighting ceremony in Pliny Park. It is a community tradition where we gather to round the tree, close our eyes and together, set an intention for the holiday month. It can also serve as your kick-off to the Chamber’s Holly Days & Holly Nights. But don’t stop there, keep checking Planagogo — the community calendar at www.brattleboro.com for concerts, gatherings, and events..

I will be in my community all December enjoying the spirit we create together. Whether you’re revisiting a favorite old memory, forming your own first-year tradition or simply looking for the perfect gift, we, your community are ready. See you around!

Stephanie Bonin is executive director of the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance.