January is OK, too

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2016-new-year-ss-1920I promised my wife Toni that I’d help take down the Christmas tree tomorrow.

Yes, I know it’s well into the new year, January 8 to be exact. I suppose a lot of people take down their tree and put away the ornaments and decorations the day after Christmas.

I’m glad to enjoy looking at the tree and the various collections of Santas and Christmas stockings for a few more days, even a week. What’s the rush?

We’re not the only family that spends a month getting ready for the holiday. Merchants at the mall aren’t featuring specials on Easter decorations. The sales are a bustling postscript to Christmas.

I made an appearance there just this morning. Mere rain doesn’t prevent me from hiking in nearby Foster Park. I just slip on my waterproof jacket and pants. But today it was cold enough to freeze in spots. I can get my walk in if it’s mostly ice. I just slip my spikes onto my New Balance shoes. Some ice on the walk sends me to the mall.

I suppose I’ve been saying for years that the Christmas holiday is over too fast. Well, if you’re just counting hours, you’ll see the holiday lasts just the same time as every other day of the year.

But I do enjoy the weeks of build-up, the shopping, the carols, the planning and the nice mood the holiday seems to have conferred on everybody.

For most people, it’s now back to the routine. Teachers and students have heard the bells and have joined everybody rushing down the hallways. The teachers’ lounge empties. Now from the front of the classroom, the she appeals for attention from students eager to share their holiday adventures.

Meantime, factories and stores fill with employees and customers. The newsroom where I spent a big chunk of my adult life settles back into a familiar routine. Even New Years’ hangovers have become just an unwelcome memory.

Well, nearly 12 months of a new day lie ahead. What will I make of this next year? In my student years, I could vow to study more, study harder. As a family featuring a spouse and children materialized around me, I could vow to listen better and help out more.

But at 77, I’ve probably exhausted the resolutions I could conjure. I wouldn’t say I’m as good as I’m going to get. Realistically, that’s probably the case, though I can hope for making minor course corrections.

I can think of two things to look forward to in 2016. First, I mean to do all the exercises the therapist has given me to cure my sore arm and shoulder. Second, I’m sure Toni and I will agree on our next travel adventure.

Of course, there’s that Christmas tree to take down and put away for next year. The season will be here before you know it. I can’t wait.

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Editor rides into the sunset

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gold_pocket_watch__updated__for_xwidget_by_jimking-d5o6g4uCraig teared up when he started to thank everybody gathered for his retirement party in the newsroom.

I’m guessing that he had served as the Journal Gazette‘s editor in Ft. Wayne for 30 years, maybe more. During our tenure together, more than 20 years, he chaired the editorial board and pretty much had final say on the wording of the editorials that I and my two writers had composed.

Thursday afternoon reporters, editors and retirees such as myself stood around, greeting visitors and enjoying the punch, cookies and other snacks. I enjoyed seeing the old pros such as Dell who had written feature stories long before I joined the paper in 1982. I spoke briefly with Dean, a photographer and also a veteran.

I got a hug from Julie the publisher. Her dad was the publisher when I wrote editorials and personal columns. He passed away a year or so ago. But I knew before that Julie was being groomed to take over for the family business.

Mike, my copy editor, greeted me. I shook hands with a few writers I recognized from other departments. I was especially pleased to say hello to today’s editorial writers, Karen the page editor who joined the paper when I was still there and Tim, back from management jobs at other newspapers and an editorialist in my early days.

I retired in the year 2000. And I hadn’t stepped into the building since. I guess I didn’t want to invite an attack what-ifs nostalgia. But I as looked over the newsroom, the familiar copy desk in front, followed by rows of desks holding computers, I was reminded of this basic democratic feature of our country – freedom of the press.

I couldn’t miss a few changes in the newsroom. For example, the sports editor, whom I had never met, now occupies my old office.

Every day, these professionals I was honored to mingle among Thursday not only labor to produce one of the Midwest’s finest newspapers every day. They might not give this a second thought: They are doing their part to protect that freedom.

Now Craig, the retiring editor, leaves the newsroom on West Main knowing that Sherry, his successor, will lead the paper in the finest journalism tradition that my editor and friend so ably embodied for so many years.

As I wished him the best, I doubt that Craig was remembering the favors he’d done for me, the trips and tours he sent me and the kindness he showed me when my son was seriously ill in the hospital.

I was glad to see a few old colleagues. No, I didn’t drown in the nostalgia. Mostly, the reception gave me a chance to give this man a heartfelt thanks. I had a great job representing a great newspaper. And I got to work every day with one of the country’s finest editors. So enjoy your retirement, Craig. I’d say you’ve more than earned it.

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