Boyette has come home to Aiken Standard 1

John Boyette

We’re in the home stretch for Christmas.

Is it just me, or in the rush to “beat the rush” are more and more events planned for early December?

This past week, for example, was packed with something Christmas-related almost every day.

It started Tuesday with the Aiken Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Handel’s "Messiah." Under the direction of Donald Portnoy, the symphony performed beautifully as hundreds of concertgoers enjoyed the Christmastime tradition.

As the concert began to wind down, I remembered the wise words of one of my former USC Aiken professors. I believe Dr. Val Lumans was the first one who ingrained in me that one always stood when the Hallelujah chorus is played. The brochure said the tradition of standing began with King George II at the London premiere. Internet search engines like to debunk that theory, but who am I to argue?

The next day began early as I had volunteered to ring bells for the Salvation Army in front of Kroger. Now, we all know that Wednesdays are busy days at grocery stores. But it was good to get out with my fellow Kiwanis Club of Aiken members and do our part in helping raise funds for those in need. And a special thank you to the gentleman who recognized me and praised our efforts here at the newspaper.

I can’t remember any of my professors giving me a history lesson on when the red kettle bell ringing began, but my handy-dandy search engine tells me that it started in 1891 in San Francisco. According to the Salvation Army, the money collected by the volunteers is used to help more than 25 million people each year. Although the bell ringing is done at Christmas, the money is used to help others throughout the year.

Up next was the Aiken Standard’s annual Christmas party. All departments came together for food, fun and some Christmas-themed games. For example, can you name something related to Christmas starting with each letter of the alphabet? It’s harder than it sounds. (I was told that QVC does not qualify for Q.)

The funniest part came when we divided the room into two sides and played a Christmas version of Family Feud. Someone fired up the game show’s music on their phone, then everyone tried to remember the names of Santa’s reindeer. (Rudolph, somehow, wasn’t the top choice.) Like an old-time comedy sketch, hilarity ensued.

The week ended with my wife and I heading to downtown Aiken to shop for Christmas gifts. You won’t find records of this on the internet, I don’t think, but my memory tells me that we’ve been doing it for a few years now. The tradition includes walking vast portions of Laurens Street and Richland and Park avenues to purchase those last few gifts, then finding a spot to eat.

Somewhere in the midst of all that, I found time to program my vehicle’s radio to Christmas music AND watch the Bing Crosby classic movie, "White Christmas." Before long, I will be eating goodies, attending Christmas Eve church service and throwing a Nerf football back and forth with my sister in my parents’ living room. (Don’t ask, but that’s a long-standing tradition.)

Christmas will come and go before we know what hits us. I don’t need a search engine to tell me that the actual holiday passes much quicker than the anticipation.

Thanks for reading.

John Boyette is executive editor of the Aiken Standard. Reach him at or 803-644-2364.