Mayor’s Message: Holidays are a time to come together

Mayor Louis Manzo

I love the holiday season, as I’m sure many of you do too. Regardless of how we practice our faith, it’s a time to gather with family and close friends and share traditional dishes, depending on our ethnic background. Though 2020 may be different than any other year, for obvious reasons, it’s still a time to take a step back and appreciate everything about this life. The holiday season is steeped in tradition, as we acknowledge the history of our own family and those who established the personal rituals we keep during this season. 

We often do this by sharing great stories of those family members and friends who are no longer with us and delight in those memories. I can still see my paternal grandfather, Poppa Lou, sitting at the head of the dining room table in my childhood home holding court and feasting on Christmas dinner. He loved to eat, lol! His booming voice always filled the room and the smorgasbord of incredible food was non-stop from Christmas Eve through Christmas night at my house. I so looked forward to these family moments in my childhood and those memories are powerful and vivid for me to this day. We have sought to instill those same values in raising our daughters, all grown now, and I know many of you are blessed with similar memories that are conjured up by the holiday season. Who’s your Poppa Lou?

Since the season is such a natural time for reflection, we may include those loved ones that have gone before us at our family holiday table, spiritually. We speak of them and their nuances or quirks, wrapping ourselves in those memories amidst the laughter and perhaps a joyful tear or two. We miss them but count our blessings for these remembrances. We honor them by passing their traditions on to our children and grandchildren as they become part of our family’s story and assume stewardship of it. This is what binds us together and arguably it’s the only thing we leave behind when we are gone. Tradition. Family. And the love and commitment we have for each other. So, celebrate that during these holidays. Set aside all of life’s baggage and enjoy – no, absorb – these wonderful moments. 

As a community, this is also a time when we witness extraordinary acts of kindness and sharing all around us. I could write pages of examples here, but I know you are aware of various opportunities in your life’s circle to help those not quite as fortunate. Clearly, you provide your support where you can because I see it throughout town. This benevolence is the foundation of our community … our Mullica Hill family. It’s why we all love this place and cherish being part of it.

On behalf of the other members of Township Committee, Don Heim, Julie DeLaurentis, John Williams and Adam Wingate, I wish you and your family all possible blessings this holiday season.