Whether you’ve been hearing silver bells or not, it is, in fact, Christmas time in the city. Or at least it’s close enough to start panicking about unfinished Christmas shopping.

Oh, sure. We know there are some people out there who got all of their shopping done before Thanksgiving and now are probably busying themselves with Valentine’s Day plans. But for the rest of us, this is a time of year when we’re scrambling to find last-minute gift ideas for friends, relatives and those people who weren’t on our Christmas lists, but gave us presents that need to be reciprocated.

So we have a small request: Please consider doing at least some of your shopping at small and locally owned businesses. Yes, we know convenience is an issue. Particularly if you’re getting an item that needs to be shipped to someone living out of town, online shopping may be the best option. Or maybe you need to get a toy for your kid that’s only available at one of the so-called “big box” retailers.

There are, however, a lot of reasons to shop local. Doing so keeps your money flowing through the local economy, as opposed to ending up in the coffers of some out-of-state corporation. You’ll also be supporting neighbors who work at or own local shops.

And — dare we say it? — getting out and window shopping actually can be fun. At least in limited doses.

While we’re on the subject of Christmas, we think it’s great that Pueblo County officials are planning to spruce up their annual lighting and decoration display on the courthouse grounds. If they were planning to do this with public funds, we might question whether this should be one of the county’s top priorities.

However, the plan is to use privately raised funds to buy a 25-foot Rockefeller Christmas tree, more indoor and outdoor decorations, stage lighting and laser lights. This year’s ceremony, which included a fireworks show, drew about 1,500 people.

That qualifies the lighting ceremony as a pretty successful community event and one which brightens up a sometimes dreary time of year. It might not seem like a huge deal in the overall scheme of things, but little touches like that are part of what makes Pueblo County a special place.

So shop locally, if you can. Then, if you have money left over, please consider donating to the county’s Christmas paraphernalia purchases. While silver bells can make beautiful music, the sounds of cash registers ringing throughout our community are nice, too.