It feels like Christmas here at The Northern Virginia Daily, and not just for the obvious reasons.
Without question, the lobby of the newspaper's Strasburg office has had a Yuletide look for weeks, thanks to the wonderful decorations put out by one of our longtime employees, Park Hottel.
But the Daily also has a holiday feel because of how busy everyone is. Every department, including the news, advertising, production, circulation and mailroom operations, has been at full speed since before Thanksgiving, largely because of the many projects that come into play at the end of each year.
While the season represents a winding-down time for many people, at the Daily we seem to crank up.
Our sports staff, for instance, just wrapped up coverage of prep playoffs in the Northern Shenandoah Valley. Capping the effort was our Fall All-Area Teams special section published on Dec. 17, a salute to the area's best in high school football, volleyball, cross country and golf.
Before the ink had dried on the section, though, our sports crew was immersed in the winter sports schedule at those same schools and laying the groundwork for their next big project, a special section devoted to the annual Daily Classic basketball tournament.
The section appearing in today's issue offers a preview of the Classic, which is scheduled Monday through Thursday at Strasburg High School. The Daily also sponsors and organizes the tourney, which this year features the boys and girls teams at Strasburg, Warren County, James Wood and Luray high schools.
In addition to our sports staff, many other Daily employees volunteer to help out with the Classic, now in its eighth year, making it a fun way to dive into the new season.
Meanwhile, the rest of the news staff is busy with yet another special section, the annual "Year in Review," which will publish on Thursday, just ahead of the New Year's holiday.
The Daily published its first year-end section in 2001, largely in recognition of the historic significance of the 9/11 terror attacks and the start of the war in Afghanistan. Each year since, we've put together a similar keepsake edition, although the focus has shifted to the top local news of the year.
The entire Daily staff was given a chance to vote on the top 10 local stories, which we'll recap in the section. We'll also highlight the work of our staff photographers this year.
We have one other big project before us as 2010 draws to a close: The preparation of entries for the annual Virginia Press Association editorial competition, a peer review of the year's best work by newspapers of all sizes across the commonwealth.
We'll need to submit our entries for judging soon, not long after the last chorus of "Auld Lang Syne."
And, as unlikely as it may seem considering all that we have on our agenda, a few Daily staffers will manage to squeeze in some time off over the next few days.
It is, after all, the holiday season.
• Bob Wooten is the managing editor of the Daily. Contact him at 800-296-5137 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.