Yesterday I drove 4 hours to St Michael's, Maryland for a tree-trimming party. This was at the house of a friend from high school, someone I've known for far too long! Two others joined us, and we drank lots of wine and talked and ate and enjoyed each other's company.
After dinner, we went to Midnight Madness, a St. Michael's tradition. In this very-much tourist trade oriented town, the stores generally close for the winter months. To get rid of inventory and have one last blast, they put items on sale for the last weeks of the year and on the first Saturday night in December, they stay open until close to midnight. One of the draws is that with each purchase, you can get raffle tickets (biggest prize is $1000 in "St. Michael's Money"). At 11:30p the crowd gathers and everyone waits to see who's won which gift basket.
It's such a great small town tradition. I know several small towns that could benefit from something similar. My friend has also created a great tradition: time for friends to gather and celebrate the many years we've known each other, as well as to have some fun shopping for those stocking stuffers and "oh wow, --- would love this" gifts.
Here's to many more such gatherings, for all of us.