It’s been a great week in Wickenburg.

On Friday evening, 35 entries turned out for the Christmas Parade of Lights. A local favorite, the short, but beautiful parade draws families downtown so young and old alike can marvel at the number of lights piled on floats, semis, heavy equipment, Jeeps and more. Christmas music makes people dance as they shoot videos and pictures they will post on social media and look back on later.

I love the Christmas parade because it is a quintessential small town activity. Sure, we have a some folks from neighboring communities who have found us, but for the most part it’s all Wickenburg, and that’s special. The volunteers and staff from the Chamber of Commerce, Town, and Garcia Little Red School House make it all happen, along with many participants, and of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus who come all the way from the North Pole.

Also on Friday, as well as Saturday and Sunday, the Zoppe Italian Family Circus entertained young and old alike. On Sunday, an 86-year old man sat next to an 8-month old girl, and neither took their eyes off the amazing action going on under the old-fashioned tent – well, the baby took a nap for a bit, but caught most of the fun. The Zoppe circus is perfect for Wickenburg. It’s old-fashioned, completely man powered, and totally legit. No nets, no smoke and mirrors, just raw talent and demonstrations of strength and flexibility in the human body with some cute dogs and pretty horses here and there. Great job, Webb Center. Please bring them back again.

Then there’s the shopping. The Wickenburg Sun is dedicating a significant amount of support toward shop-local efforts this season. So how could I do my Christmas shopping anywhere else? Rather than driving 45 minutes or so and fighting traffic on the roads and inside box stores, I hit N. Tegner and Wickenburg Way. I have a pretty long list, so I stopped at CVS, Tractor Supply, NRS, Rusty Rooster, Ben’s Saddlery and The Nest. I got half my list checked off and only spent two hours and a half a gallon of gas. I’m not done yet and look forward to visiting several more stores, but I will tell you there’s nothing like shopping in Wickenburg. I saw several people I hadn’t run into in months. We visited and caught up. I also found out from a very knowledgeable sales girl that in our little town I can buy some really cool, colorful bracelets made of telephone wire from an African country, and the proceeds will benefit a charity. She also knew all about each of the artists who had contributed to the amazing inventory of everything from clothing to fine art and jewelry.

Ben’s is my favorite though, and for good reason. Now before other merchants get mad at me for not liking them best, please understand… when I was a little girl I remember going into Ben’s Saddlery with my parents in the hot, hot summer when only swamp coolers gave us any reprieve. The cowbell would announce our arrival, and immediately the warm smell of leather would overtake me. Just like today, saddles were on the left with paper tags hanging off of them. Used and ranchy, they had taps on the stirrups, and rubber on the horns. Spurs and bits were next, and a glass case with memorabilia from local heroes stood nearby. On the right was a jewelry case with lots of earrings, turquoise, belt buckles, conchos, and other pretty stuff. The hats were on the wall behind the jewelry case, and the boots were between them and the cash register. I can’t even tell you how many pair of boots from Ben’s I’ve worn out, but my best memory is the earrings.

My dad did not love Christmas shopping. In fact, he did his best and only Christmas shopping on Dec. 24 at about 3 p.m., possibly after a bit of planning at the La Cabana. Each year, I would open a tiny present, wrapped in brown paper with horses on it and a red bow. The little, white cardboard box always held a couple squares of cotton, and sandwiched between was a pair of silver earrings. Conchos, boots, hoops, butterflies, roses, hearts – he never duplicated. Sometimes, I’d get a silver engraved hair clip just to mix things up, (or maybe the earrings were too picked over by 3 p.m. on Dec. 24 that year.) Either way, the earring and clip collection purchased over many years by my dad at Ben’s Saddlery is now one of my most-valued possessions.

So when I stopped in there on Saturday, to visit with Bruce and Jennifer for a minute (but it took and hour), guess what I bought. Can’t tell you because my mom always reads this column, but I know she’s going to be happy when she opens the little white box.

I love being from Wickenburg – to have those memories, to relive them and revive them. I’m going to finish my shopping here at home, keep old traditions and friendships alive and create some new ones.

It’s Christmas shopping made easy and fun.

And that’s my gift to me.

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