"Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving, make every day a holiday and celebrate just living." -- Amanda Bradley

Every year during the holiday season I say to no one in particular: "Is it that time already?" I don't know about you but time seems to be moving at a faster pace as I grow older.

It doesn't help matters when merchants advertise Christmas sales in August and "Back to School Sales" in July. As I recall, we didn't start back to school until September when I was that age.

Call me old-fashioned. I prefer holidays without commercial interruption.

Back in my days, all the stores closed to mark the special event and the only businesses open were eateries that catered to folks who didn't feel like cooking.

Of all holidays, Christmas has been my all-time favorite. From early on I loved the smell of freshly cut firs and took special pride in decorating our tree with the strings of red and white construction paper chains I made in Sunday school.

Houses in our neighborhood that we seldom noticed suddenly would spring to life with bright colored lights as if inviting us all to come in.

I always looked forward to attending church with my folks on Christmas Eve to watch the Christmas pageant performed by the kids in our neighborhood. Although the same play was presented year after year, I never tired of seeing it.

And, like Timex, Santa could be counted on to appear resplendent in his red and white costume to hand out candy canes to all the children at the close of the pageant.


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Unlike today, there was little gift exchanging. We were living in extremely tough economic times. Anyone who received more than a couple of presents was envied.

I could always count on a gift from the church and one from our parents that I knew was a shirt or some other article of clothing. It didn't take much more than a game of pick-up sticks or a pair of roller skates to please most children.

Most of my friends never went on a family excursion and some had never even taken a ferry or crossed the bridge to visit San Francisco. Ask anyone who grew up in the Bay Area during that period and they will tell you that folks dressed up when they went "uptown" to The City as it was known then.

We were raised in the pre-electronics era -- who needed television when we were able to enjoy the real thing?

On most other holidays, mom often packed a lunch of American and Japanese foods when the weather was warm and the family spent the afternoon at Lake Merritt where my brothers and I ate and horsed around while our folks sat back to take their well-deserved rest from work.

There is a lot to be said about living in today's society. We can eat just about anything at any time regardless of the season; we can travel to the farthest reaches of the world in a matter of hours and one day even into outer space; we can talk to anyone by simply dialing their number with our cellular phones; we can get instant heat or cold with a flip of the switch; we can get the best of medical care for illnesses once considered fatal ... and on and on.

And when we talk of what once was, a lot of folks are likely to respond: Don't live in the past!

I might agree. But not totally. Despite what we call progress, there are many important elements that may be overlooked in the process.

A friend recently told me he wrote a note offering a pair of tickets to a Broadway show to the finder, and inserted it in a bottle which he tossed into the bay.

He received a call three days later and arranged to meet the caller the following day. Turns out the caller was a young homeless man who declined the theater tickets in favor of a simple meal.

I can only add that not everyone will like what we think is best for them.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Eizo Kobayashi is a Concord resident and a member of the Concord Senior Citizens Club. Contact him at columns@bayareanewsgroup.com.