With Christmas next week and the holidays rushing toward us there is much to be grateful for this year in the Mad River Valley.

Our recovery from Tropical Storm Irene is not over, but we're getting close and our sense of ourselves as a community, which surged after the storm, is not diminishing. That's an incredible gift.

And what a gift it is to see lights on at the Witzel-Applebaum house on German Flats Road. The land for this project was donated to the local affordable land initiative by Sugarbush and labor to build their home was donated by Barre Voc Tec Center and then friends and neighbors and coworkers and, of course, Charlie Hosford showed up to get it finished. One family at a time. That's a great gift.

At the home of another Valley family, a woman is fighting ovarian cancer, and aggressively fighting it costs money. A friend of the family created a social media contribution plan that in less than four full days raised $11,700 to help offset expenses. Way to take care of your neighbors, people!

How lucky we are that several closed businesses will have the lights turned on this year (or early next year). Welcome to the new owners of the Mad River Barn, the White Horse Inn and the former Egan's Restaurant. Welcome to the new lessees of The Elusive Moose Pub and Restaurant (nee Purple Moon Pub-Easy Street Cafe).

Welcome, Canteen Brewery, to Mad River Green Shopping Center where the former Jay's Restaurant is going to look good on you! We're looking forward to when the China Fun moves to the former Troll Shop and we can have take-out or eat-in Chinese food!

It's a great gift to have volunteers who will leave their beds, their groceries, their desks and their lives to come to our aid when we need them. Thanks to our volunteer firefighters and ambulance service volunteers. You've got our backs 24/7.

And, of course, we are overjoyed that the Route 100 paving project is over, along with the Kingsbury Bridge project and the Waitsfield sidewalk project. We're happy they're over and thrilled with the outcome. That's an amazing gift.

Be grateful for these gifts and all the gifts.