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The Fairhaven Tree Lighting: a Newcomer's Perspective by Paola Merrill

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The Village Green with Christmas lights

I fell in love with Fairhaven in June of this year and consequently made it my home. As a child raised by military parents who routinely moved between countries, I have rarely called any one place my own for an extended period of time. The tree lighting ceremonies that I have attended in the past were organized by groups of people that were in similar situations as myself. These fellow strangers decorated trees together to establish a sense of unity within a community often fractured by the realities of military life. These experiences cemented the belief that community events are vital in order to nurse a sense of belonging.

To me, traditions such as a tree lighting not only exist for the sake of locals who feel intrinsically connected to their lifelong community, it is for newcomers who are searching for a home. Each person that attends is part of my Fairhaven neighborhood. This ignites all the warm and familial feelings that winter festivities are renown for.        

The Fairhaven Village is captivating to say the least. After moving in, I was pleased to discover a thriving community that actively fed a culture ripe with art and independent businesses. Fairhaven is vibrant - the locals do far more than exist, they directly engage their community to help it unite and grow. I felt this unity the moment I began working in the area - I was embraced by my employers, coworkers, and customers alike. On my first day working as a Bookseller at Village Books, a kind customer took my hand and said, “Fairhaven is a special place, it’s a family waiting to adopt you”. To someone who has been transient for almost their entire life, a promise of such stability meant more than that customer would ever know.  

Fairhaven’s sense of interconnectivity is genuine. Few things exemplify this like a tree lighting. To build a community that voluntarily funds such an event is no small feat. Like Winterfest committee member Di Reinsch so aptly put, the Fairhaven tree lighting “is a chance for everyone who loves this place to actively be part of it”.    

In short, I’ll be enjoying the festivities this November and awaiting the lighting of the feature tree with excitement. It’ll be a moment that renews my sense of place. I’ll be celebrating the new season along with my community - I hope you’ll stop by and celebrate along with me.  

Published in the Historic Fairhaven Monthly Newsletter. 

By our very own bookseller, Paola. 

Chuckanut Reader 40th anniversary magazine by Village Books