Our lives are filled with poignant, meaningful moments. ASPE has been kind to me in many ways, and I will be thankful for that my entire life. The final weeks of the year are always a good time to reflect. We all can agree that this year has been tumultuous, with the continued pandemic, multiple natural disasters, the “great resignation,” an unsettled economy, angry politics, and the loss of friends and family, but our resilience and resolve make me hopeful and thankful. There are no kind words for turmoil; nothing ever seems to put the loss of those we love in perspective. Nothing seems to comfort huge change, so I don’t offer any words—just a sentiment: We leave only our deeds, efforts, memories, and family in life. Your family can be those related by blood or choice. Life is a simple gift; we only have choices. We can choose to love, work, believe, and hope, but this year has taught me even more: We can welcome challenge, we can engage help, we can learn, and we can lead. The one thing most important is that we can love each other through all of this.
As I go into the holiday season, I remember that as a Society, we are the fortunate ones, and I am thankful for all of you. I am in awe and in amazement of our Society, our members, my friends. You are dedicated, honorable people, working to make this world a better place. It is my honor to move us forward and contribute to the growth of our profession.
The second thing I remember crystal clear during the holidays is my brother, who has passed. Every year the family adventure was the Christmas tree hunt. Throughout the year we would spot cedar trees and say, “Christmas tree!” Then directly after Thanksgiving, the decision was made, and the Christmas tree was in the procurement phase, with a few family members and one Country Squire station wagon in attendance.
One year the Christmas tree was a single cedar in a pasture, and an item to note is that a single tree in a pasture is larger than it appears when cut down and loaded on a station wagon. That year my sister was the leader—the leader who was berated for leaving my brother in the pasture while she got help to load the tree since it was extra large. Nevertheless, with the extra pair of hands the tree was loaded on the station wagon, sticking off both the front and back ends. We only had some sad twine to tie it down, so my brother got on top to help hold the tree on the roof. We got home safely, and thanks to vaulted ceilings and extensions cords tying it to the wall, the Christmas tree was set in place, with one or two critters possibly hiding in it.
That year, we got extra lights and ornaments to go on the tree and we slept under the tree—and we have remembered that Christmas forever. Since then, whenever I see a cedar tree or we talk of that Christmas, I hear my brother say, “Yeah, but I was the rope!” Apparently riding on top of a Christmas tree on a station wagon is a life-altering event for a teenage boy. Of course, we also laughed that my sister got in trouble for leaving Mike in the pasture, while Mother chose to toss him on top of a car. I never claimed to have a normal family, but one thing my family has taught me is to be prepared, be flexible to change, and hang on. You may have a great adventure that alters your life.
With all of this, know that you have my greatest appreciation, and I hope you have a great holiday. Please spend time with your family and friends. Your ASPE Family wishes all of the kindness, hope, and love in the world for you.
I wish all of you a merry holiday season. Please contact me anytime with your ideas and comments as we grow this Society and our profession.