Letting Go of Tradition

By Chris Leavenworth


Are you a grown adult that celebrates the tradition of receiving holiday gifts? I know I am. I have all kinds of stupid stuff I want. This year I’m letting go of that tradition and here’s why.


I live west of Bay County. Most likely, I’ll be warm and safe celebrating the holidays this season. Last night, I fell asleep in bed watching a Russian movie with subtitles.


I mean, I haven’t had to rely on tarps, coats, or blankets to try and stay dry and warm through the miserably cold rain we’ve been having. That’s because I am exceptionally lucky. And so are you, if you live west of Bay County.


Sometimes it’s hard to empathize when a tragedy happens on another continent, or even in another state, but there are hundreds of families and individuals only a couple counties over who have lost everything. We’re literally sharing the same rain cloud, only most of us have a home.


How hard would it be for adults in Okaloosa to forego the tradition of receiving holiday gifts this one season to help those who need it most? With Black Friday right around the corner, the idea of competing in line to consume a new TV, iPad, or anything genuinely unnecessary feels profoundly insular, given the tragic fate of our neighbors—one we evaded by just a hair.


Tell your friends and family members you don’t need anything this year. Instead, instruct them to buy toys for the kids in Panama City. If you’re a grown adult, this should make sense to you.


Children who look forward to receiving gifts from the same type of programs locally should not be dismissed either. We simply need to do more this year to spread the holiday cheer. If you usually donate toys locally, you should continue that tradition (and maybe get one extra gift for the kids in PC, if you can afford it).


Here’s a list of places you can drop toys, blankets and coats off locally that will be delivered to Toys for Tots in Panama City on December 9 at Karuna 30A.



3 Racetrack Road NW, Fort Walton Beach


Mon.-Fri., 8 AM-5 PM



42 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, Fort Walton Beach

Tue.-Sat., 9 AM-10 PM; Sundays,
9 AM-6 PM. Closed Mondays.


HARBOR DOCKS (Pier 98 Office Building, Not the Restaurant)

543 Harbor Blvd Unit 103, Destin

Mon.-Fri., 10 AM-2 PM



950 Gulf Shore Drive, Destin

Mon.-Fri., 7 AM-3 PM



4507 Furling Lane #113, Destin

Mon.-Fri., 9 AM-3 PM



217 Miracle Strip Parkway SW, Fort Walton Beach

Mon., Tue. and Thu., 11 AM-6 PM; Fri. and Sat., 11 AM-7 PM; Sundays, 11 AM-7 PM. Closed Wednesdays.

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