Editor’s Note: A dozen years ago Frank Baillargeon, of Eagle, had a longing to move back to the Treasure Valley. He got his family back just in time for Christmas 2003.
For nearly four years we wandered far from our adopted Treasure Valley home. Work and family circumstances took us first to Michigan, then to San Francisco, then to northernmost California. Great and necessary adventures all. Yet, there was a perpetual emptiness in our hearts.
Summer each year brought us back to celebrate the Boise River Festival with our Idaho friends. After each visit we’d ache even more to return. Finally, last month we returned.
Impossibly more people here! In fact, amazing changes everywhere we looked. Sprawling residential and commercial development. Big-city traffic. Driving in via Oregon on a Saturday morning on 84 gave us a moment of dread. Would the Boise that we remembered and yearned for so often still be here, or would we discover a winding down of the community character, the memory of which had drawn us home.
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Our dread was unfounded. The character of our community thrives. We wish that we could, like Dickens’ ghost of Christmas past, carry lifelong Idaho residents on a journey to the alternative American experiences, where we have lived, worked and raised our children. Only then could we possibly and accurately share our joy and gratitude for being welcomed home.
Christmas is the perfect Treasure Valley holiday. It’s the holiday that officially celebrates not only the birth of Christ, but also the spirit of giving and brotherhood. Upon our return we joined the crowds that lined the streets of downtown on a very cold Thanksgiving weekend at the Boise Holiday Parade. We wiped tears from our eyes as the color guard marched past and every man, woman and child stood, with hand over heart acknowledging and respecting our nation’s flag. Our hearts nearly burst watching young men and women, smiles lighting up their wholesome faces, merrily passing candy to bundled children lining the streets.
In the days leading up to Christmas we walked neighborhood streets sharing an expectation that at each turn, with each emerging human tableau, we would see another living Rockwell painting. We spent time at the Festival of Trees and stared in awe not only at the magnificent trees, but more so at the faces of our neighbors, young and old, filled with open and unguarded holiday joy. We delighted in seeing the ongoing charitable spirit in the community, knowing that Christmas needs of the less fortunate would be met, as always.
It is an indescribable blessing to be home at our adopted Idaho home. To each of you who we have passed in the aisles of the supermarket, at the mall, on the sidewalks or the Greenbelt, in the coffee shops and elsewhere, we want to say “thank you” for your smiles. It’s that willingness and silent commitment to acknowledge that we are all family and each loved that marks the character of our community. In spite of growth and changes, and in spite of issues that highlight our personal differences, that community character, that brotherly compassion, is unchanged.
Merry Christmas, one and all.
Frank Baillargeon, of Eagle, takes time out each year to write a holiday essay or poem for friends and family. This was his 2003 offering.