It's hard to hang onto the joy of the holidays in a crowded mall while you're trying to push your way through legions of glassy-eyed zombie shoppers who waited until two days before Christmas to scour for gifts for the 20,000 or so people on their lists.
Peace and goodwill do not exist in such places. But they do exist especially here in the Rim country.
Every year, local service groups work quietly and diligently to brighten the holiday season for the less fortunate people in our community.
The Payson Lioness Club raises money and collects thousands of pounds of food every year to provide Christmas dinners for hundreds of local families and seniors. The group works with local food banks, homeowners associations, service organizations and schools to make sure no one goes hungry for the holidays.
Along with the Lioness Club, a handful of people work year-round to raise enough money to buy toys for the needy children in our community and special gifts for the town's seniors in need. This year Santa's List, Payson's toy drive organization, provided toys for 580 children and gifts for 52 seniors.
And the group had lots of help.
APS Stocking Stuffers, the toy drive's biggest financial supporter, raised $8,000 through its annual charity golf tournament for Santa's List.
Residents donated hundreds of stuffed animals to the effort through Teddy Bear Thursday, an annual event in which postal carriers collect toy donations placed by mailboxes.
St. Philip's Catholic Church and the Mazatzal Casino provided hundreds of toys for local children through the community's annual Angel Tree program; the Episcopal Church Women of St. Paul's Church and the Payson Pilots Association donated dozens of toys and the Rim Country Classic Auto Club provided ample manpower to divide the gifts up for the holidays.
In addition to these generous souls, Don and Silvia Smith of Ox Bow Estates spend weeks every year cooking hundreds of tamales for their annual Tamales for Toys event, in which they trade tamales for toys for the local law enforcement toy drive. Local law enforcement agencies then adopt families and provide them with gifts.
It was a tremendous effort, and everyone who helped deserves a pat on the back and the satisfaction of knowing that every moment they spent spreading goodwill was one less moment fighting the mobs at the mall.