It’s become a tradition; a warm, fuzzy slice of the Hamilton County holiday pie. The edition you are reading today is more than just the latest version of all the local news that’s fit to print. It is a giant Christmas card from the community, to the community, filled with tidings of goodwill. It reminds me so much of the giant basket that sat around the Johnson household while I was growing up. That basket was filled to the brim by Christmas Day with pictures of family and friends, cards from all over the country and letters highlighting the events of the previous year. I spent hours each year going through that treasure trove of holiday cheer, and still do today when we go visit my mother in Imperial during the holidays. Even 30-plus years after I left home, there is a connection for me in that basket, a sense of home, all wrapped up in the spirit of the Christmas season.
A grandmother recently told the story about her grandson striving to complete his homework assignment. He came home from grade school and announced to his mother he must create a math problem essay that would utilize subtraction to display an answer that ended in four. After a few minutes of writing he handed the sheet to his mother for approval. It read: If I had eight liters of water and I had drank four, there would be only four liters left. But, then I had to pee. The alarmed mother looked at his story problem and challenged the last line telling him it might not be appropriate. The young student asked, “Why not?”... and he concluded, “That’s an awfully lot of water!” Some days a son’s homework can be pretty tough on a mom. ***
There is a changing of the guard pending at Aurora City Hall -- times two. The city faces a major leadership transition with a change pending at two important posts as the year comes to a close. We have a new mayor as of Tuesday for the first time in 12 years, with Marlin Seeman passing the gavel to Dave Long. Both are former educators who are passionate about the call to serve, stepping up to help lead in a new capacity at the end of their successful teaching careers. Aurora owes a sincere thanks to Mr. Seeman for his 18 years of combined service as a councilman and mayor. We also wish Mr. Long well going forward. Both are good men who believe strongly in this community. The other transition comes as a bit of a surprise. Marlan Ferguson was just getting his feet fully under him after 18 months on the job as city administrator, but will now head back to Grand Island to take the same position there.
When the betterhalf takes on a project she takes it on with enthusiasm. This time it appears her project is Christmas. It should be noted this is not a new project for her. All our married life I have witnessed her tackling the holiday. But, this year her enthusiasm seems to have a stronger intensity. I mentioned a few weeks ago, the betterhalf had put up the outside Christmas lights. She promised she would not turn them on until Thanksgiving had passed. Another promise was blown, or at least it was stretched. She clicked the switch for the lights just as darkness fell on the Thanksgiving evening and she justified her action by saying there were several outdoor Christmas lights in our neighborhood already aglow.
Is it time for Bo to go? And, will athletic director Shawn Eichorst, a virtual newcomer to Nebraska, actually pull the plug? The answer to that first question will be debated for years, though Husker Nation learned Sunday that Eichorst felt it was indeed time for change. Under Bo Pelini’s leadership he said the Huskers “weren’t good enough in games that mattered.” Boom! That conclusion landed with a thud Sunday, a day Husker Nation will remember for decades. It’s hard to argue with the logic, however, especially after this year’s Wisconsin debacle. There are lots of other examples, all adding up to a 2-8 record in Pelini’s last 10 games against Top 25 teams. Seven of those losses were by painful, embarrassing double-digit margins.
“When men wear their Christmas neckties, business conditions are really bad.” That comment was made many years ago and in this current age has little impact on business conditions or any other conditions as far as that is concerned because few men wear neckties anymore. In fact my recent survey at our church I found only two men wearing neckties, and one of them was the minister. That now brings us to the problem in our basement where a drawer holds nearly 100 ties that once strangled my neck through past decades of formal business dress. I made the remark to the betterhalf we should get rid of those ties because with today’s casual dress code and grandkids that are too old to costume for Halloween, it means those ties will become good feed for the moths.
It is with a full and hopeful heart that we hit the pause button this week, gathering with family and friends to count our many blessings. Thanksgiving is and always has been one of my favorite holidays, not so much for what’s on the menu, but more for the simplicity of the message. Give thanks! It’s such a simple gesture, yet so meaningful when offered in humble sincerity. I know I don’t pause nearly enough to tell those around me how much I appreciate who they are and what they do, so the late November reminder comes as a blessing. We have so much to be thankful for here in Aurora, Hamilton County, Nebraska and the good ol’ US of A. It’s easy to lose sight of that fact with the deluge of negative and instant information in today’s world, but it is an indisputable truth.
“On Thanksgiving Day all over America, families sit down to dinner at the same moment – halftime.” – Author Unknown. While we may think this thought of Thanksgiving dinner is amusing, we would hope we give a deeper consideration of what Thanksgiving is all about. I found an article written again from an unknown author who wrote in 1949 a Thanksgiving message that is pertinent even today and bears repeating. “The spirit of true thanksgiving was defined by Carlyle when he said that a man should put himself at zero, and then reckon every degree ascending from that point as an occasion of thanks. That’s what these rugged forefathers of ours did. But it is not always what we today, who in America are the beneficiaries of all of history’s greatest bounties, do. Too often we are apt to complain, to look upon the dark side, to magnify the evils instead of the goodness with which we live.
It starts earlier every year! The deluge of holiday promotions and retail advertising geared toward Christmas shoppers is in full force now, a full five weeks before friends and families begin gathering around the tree to exchange gifts and well wishes. It used to be that turkey with all the trimmings were served before that process took center stage, but those days are long, long gone. Now Black Friday rings the bell as the official start of the Christmas shopping season, followed by the online Cyber Monday phenomenon. Indeed, the retail landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. This year the starting line is being pushed back further still. At least one major big box retailer is trying to beat the pack with pre-pre-pre-Black Friday specials, which of course means that all the others will follow suit.
This past week has served notice cold weather is more than just around the corner. The prior week the betterhalf and I took advantage of a spring-like day to do some outside work getting pre-cold weather chores done. Actually, our earlier efforts probably drew some questions from our neighbors about the sanity of this couple and if the neighbors didn’t question our sanity, our outside actions had to bring some amusing entertainment to the old neighborhood. While I was busy raking up leaves the betterhalf engaged in her annual endeavor of stringing her Christmas lights on a tree in the front yard and one in the back. I became aware of the light situation when she passed through the family room lugging boxes of Christmas lights just as I settled in my easy chair to take in a televised football game. Her movement was all a conspiracy she has used before to cast that guilt feeling on me.