I need to tell you about a meeting I had last week.
I know what you’re thinking...
“Oh BOY, an economic development meeting.”
“I can’t WAIT to hear what happens next!”
“I hope it has something to do with sewer lines or property taxes!”
You’re on the edge of your seat. Giddy with excitement. I get it.
But this was no ordinary meeting.
This was completely out of left field.
First of all, the meeting invite came hand-delivered in an envelope that smelled like gingerbread and pine trees.
Second, all that was written on the card was: “Tomorrow. Midnight. Currituck Beach Lighthouse.”
Real cloak and dagger stuff. A little suspicious, but also impossible to resist.
Of course, I showed up at the lighthouse.
I saw a note that read, “Meet me up top.”
My first thought was “Who is this person?”
My second thought was “That's a lot of stairs.”
I was curious, but was I curious enough to tackle 214 stairs?
I huffed my way to the top, where I saw HIM standing there...
Red velvet suit. White beard. Twinkle in his eye.
The whole shebang.
“Larry, we need to talk,” he said.
I was happy to listen. As far as I was concerned, I still owed him big time for a sweet Christmas morning haul back in '59.
His rosy cheeks glistened in the moonlight. When he puffed on his pipe, wisps of peppermint-scented smoke swirled in the cold night air.
He was taking a breather from a practice run of the Christmas Eve route and was due over Maui in a couple of hours.
He said he didn’t have much time, so he got right to the point.
“I have some things to tell people about Christmas and I want you to help me spread the word,” he said.
He was testing out a more grassroots, non-traditional approach to “getting his ideas out there.”
His buddy Jeff Bezos had forwarded him one of my emails. And Santa figured that my Currituck County Economic Development newsletter was as good a place as any to start.
“Whatever you do, don’t make this sound like a super serious big deal, okay? I'm not handing you stone tablets inscribed with Santa’s Christmas Commandments,” he said. “These are just humble suggestions from a jolly civil servant.”
“You got it big guy,” I said.
So he talked and I typed (into my phone).
I might have missed a word here and there, but this is basically what Santa Claus wants you to know about making the most of your Christmas (specifically) and your holiday season (generally):
Give your bank accounts a break. Ignore those chants of “Buy, Buy, NOW!” and “Bigger, Bigger, MORE!” Go for quality over quantity and remember that gift-giving is not a competitive sport.
Shop local when you can. It keeps the money in your neighborhood, boosts the bottom line for friends and neighbors and reduces spending energy and resources on shipping stuff from hundreds of miles away. Plus every dollar you don't spend at Amazon is one less dollar they have to put towards building their drone air force.
Spend time with the people you love. Slow down. Live in the moment. Turn off technology and enjoy the sound of real conversation. The only presents your friends and family really want is your presence.
Keep things in perspective. Think about others. Be grateful for what you have and understand that holiday “survival” for some people is more serious than dealing with shopping fatigue or not having enough oven space for your backup Turducken.
Gluten-Free Energy Bars and Sugar-Free Red Bulls are the new chocolate chip cookies and milk. He was very passionate about this. Something about helping him stay awake to catch his second wind over the Rocky Mountains.
Once I finished typing my last word, I looked up and he was gone. Just like that.
I watched him speed out over the moonlit water and disappear into the night.
It was quiet up there all alone. I stopped to think about the wisdom he shared. I thought about the huge trust he had put in me to help spread the word.
But mostly I just stood there wishing, hoping and praying that somehow, somewhere... this lighthouse had a secret elevator that I'd somehow missed.
Thanks for reading!
Have a safe and happy holiday season!
Director of Economic Development