Editorial: Christmas spirit all year long

This coming Sunday’s Christmas in Little Washington parade is not only a holiday celebration but also a wonderful example of the community spirit that animates Rappahannock County. The essential building block of this community is all about trust.

Trust is earned through the most basic of transactions – following through on your promises. In commercial terms, that means paying your bills. People in Rappahannock, with few exceptions, pay what they owe, what they promised in the past they’d pay in the future.

When they can’t pay their debts because of personal setbacks or economic circumstances, they have the courtesy to let their creditors know. They don’t hide. They don’t lie, saying “the check is in the mail.” They don’t treat their creditors with disdain, too busy or self-important to return phone calls, making good-faith creditors feel like supplicants.

This trust that binds the county together, often taken for granted (and therefore unremarked upon) by residents, is quickly and readily apparent to visitors. To begin with, there are the ubiquitous friendly greetings, even among people who are not friends. From ancient times, smiles and open-handed waves (showing no weapon) have communicated trust.

But it’s the dog that didn’t bark – or what’s not here – that is the most remarkable to outsiders: Where are the padlocks and chains protecting one’s property?

For here are no gated communities as in the suburbs. Nor are there the aggressively privatized estates increasingly visible in neighboring Fauquier and Loudoun. Even Rappahannock’s biggest farms and estates, with the grandest entrances, seldom have locked gates or motion-sensitive security cameras.

Trust is a far greater inhibitor of bad behavior. And trust makes the Christmas spirit last all year long.

Walter Nicklin