With Christmas not far away and 2012 coming up soon, we often find ourselves busy with various activities that are a part of this time of the year. And we may be reflecting back on 2011 and the events of the year, or we may be looking even further back.
As I sat down to help address our Christmas cards and get them ready to mail, I thought about each name on our list. Actually, we have two lists from the friends we have both made over the years.
So our list is longer than we like, yet each person on that list is important in one way or another to us. Going down the list, I thought about each person. Just how did that person impact our life and, if we haven't seen them for some time, how are they doing now?
That is one of the values of sending Christmas cards, to connect with someone that you may not have seen or heard from since last year. It is always nice when someone adds a personal note to their card, giving you a more information about them. That takes time but makes the card more enjoyable.
Rather than a card, we send a letter, which is a bit more personal. We try to keep ours down to one page and include mostly family information. We also get a number of letters and enjoy them. There are many beautiful and thoughtful Christmas cards that we receive and appreciate them. It's that personal contact that we have, regardless of the form, that is important.
Also, this time of the year I tend to reflect back on those people that were important in my life. As we grow up and make a life on our own, many people helped us along the way. Often we don't realize who they are when it happens, and their importance shows up later.
Our parents are the most important influences in our lives and on what we do later in life. After our parents may come certain schoolteachers that helped us and made an impact. I can think of several from both elementary and high school days. Then there were church experiences that have been an important part of our lives.
When I was growing up in Trumbull County and got out into the world of work, I think of several people that were important along the way. I think of C.D. "Dan" McGrew, who was our county agricultural agent and provided a lot of encouragement when we were in 4-H. My three brothers and I were all in 4-H at the same time. Dan was also a big help to me during my years at Ohio State University, offering support along the way.
Dick Kellogg, who managed the Northeast Ohio Artificial Breeding Association headquartered in Bazetta, was also a kind of a mentor and helped and taught me much. Several of the farmers involved in the organization were great to work with and supportive with a program that was new and sometimes controversial.
After my college years, I decided to go into Extension work for Ohio State University. My first experience was in Summit County. Once again, there were several folks who were great support and provided help along the way. The same was true when, after a short time, I was moved to Ashtabula County as county agricultural agent.
Those were troublesome early years in that county because of very low farm milk prices. Dairy farmers were at odds with each other about how to solve the problem. Once again a solid group of farmers provided help and guidance to a young county agent who was sometimes caught in the middle.
So as you get ready for Christmas and reflect back on the years past, be thankful for those who have been important in your life, who have offered help and support. And we should be doing the same thing for those around us that may need our encouragement.
A very merry Christmas and happy New Year to you.
Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune.