By Cathy B. Koplen
The Daily Star
---- — Christmas is a time for family, it is a time for giving, and it is a time for making memories.
Many families make the annual visit to Santa, recording the growth of their children with Christmas pictures.
Shawnee and Kevin Willoughby, of Warnersville, brought their two boys, age 6 and 8, to Oneonta to see Santa.
“I wanted to get their picture with Santa Claus,” Shawnee Willoughby said.
Brittney Easton, of Unadilla, praised her 19-month-old daughter Lennox for behaving on Santa’s lap Sunday.
“She was so good,” Easton said. “She saw him last year. She was a little nervous, but she did good.”
It is all about tradition and making memories for David Hitchcock.
“I have a 14-year-old son, and he always wants to make sure we do everything this year that we did last year,” Hitchcock said Sunday. “We watch Christmas movies, I have them in the box with the Christmas decorations, and every year we get excited about bringing them out again.”
For Tony Avanzato of Oneonta, Christmas is about giving. His family has given toys and clothes to needy children for 15 years. This year, Avanzato was able to spend between $125 and $150 on 35 local children.
Avanzato raised money this Christmas in memory of his mother, who died suddenly earlier this year.
“We didn’t get much for Christmas when we were little, we got a lot of hugs,” Avanzato said. “We worked hard in the restaurant business; we wanted to make something of ourselves. Now we want to give back.
Avanzato owns Stella Luna Ristorante in Oneonta with his brother, Vincenzo.
“My mother loved this; she would get as excited as the kids getting the presents. I tell the kids, they have to promise me — ‘When you get older and you are working, you will one day turn around and do this for someone else.’ They all promise me.”
Paddy Lane, a Quaker who was meeting with other Quakers Sunday, said Christmas is about gathering together and being thankful.
“It is a time of warmth and appreciation of what we have,” Lane said. “Birth is a renewal. The fact that this is a dark time of year, there are lighter days to come. The energy, the light – we listen quietly inside of ourselves to hear it. We sit as a group together in a circle and the energy is different.”
Annie Bancroft agreed with her fellow Quaker.
“We gather more than the ordinary times,” Bancroft said “Our setting is similar to a family. There is a different dynamic if you are sitting in a circle than if you are sitting in rows. You can feel an energy that you just can’t feel when you are alone.”