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THE REGULARS: End-of-year holiday season produces reflections, memories

December 16, 2018
Sioux City Journal opinion page columnist Charese Yanney is shown Monday, April 27, 2015. Sioux City Journal photo by Tim Hynds

Christmas and end of the year are fast approaching. It’s the time of year when I begin to reflect. Wow, where did the year go? I just got used to writing 2018, soon we will be writing 2019.

This year has some wonderful memories with family, such as a wedding in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For me it is a treat to spend time with my aunts, uncles and cousins. When our family gets together, tons of food is always part of the tradition and eventually ethnic music and dance breaks out.

The family is never short of food, music, fun, dance, and, most important, jokes and laughter. I ended up going to the bridal party at a cousin’s home, we danced, laughed and toasted one another for six hours.

The end of October was another family function in Kearney, Nebraska, with over 130 relatives and another 150 friends. The gathering was to celebrate the 100th anniversary of repose of our grandfather. It was amazing to me that people came from both coasts and in between. Meeting family members for the first time was awesome. Many had been invited to reunions, but for one reason or another were not able to attend.

The holidays are a time of the year when young parents begin to build traditions with their young families. Some want to be in their own homes on Christmas morning so the little kiddos find gifts from Santa under the tree and the cookies and milk all gone.

When I was nearly five years old, I remember hearing my parents trying to assemble a bicycle for me. Mom was more mechanical then Dad, she could see in her mind how things worked and went together. He sort of resisted what she was telling him because he did not necessarily see how pieces went together, but he eventually listened. I know that because the bike was all put together by the time I got up the next morning and it did not fall apart while I was riding it. Dad was a bright man, but mechanics were not his forte. His talents were in math and how to grow our company and organize everything.

As we grew older, traditions changed and we began to vacation at Christmas. It was the only time we could vacation as a family. Being in the roofing business, Dad and Grandpa did not take time off in the spring, summer, or fall, that was and still is our time to make money.

One of my more memorable Christmas vacations was when younger brother Chris turned one in Arizona by walking without holding on to anyone or anything and falling into a jigsaw puzzle that some senior citizens just completed. I am certain they were not happy with us. That same vacation, brother Jimmy was driving a golf cart for Dad and turned as fast and as sharp as he could, pitching Dad out of the cart. Somehow Dad landed on his feet uninjured, or so we thought. He ended up with a nose bleed that would not stop for days. The dry air contributed to the nose bleed the doctors thought, but the jarring from being tossed out of the cart contributed to it, too.

After experiencing a not-so-great vacation in Arizona, we eventually started going to the Hawaiian Islands where it was warmer and we could play on the beaches. We had friends, Bud and Penny Anderson, who lived in Honolulu, and they had a daughter, Maggie, who was Chris’ age. Our two families had great times together touring all around the island of Oahu. We saw parts of Pearl Harbor that most people never see. You see, Bud was a retired Naval officer and had identification that allowed us all over. I believe we had visited Pearl Harbor at least three times before seeing the Arizona. Our friend was on duty at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked; he was fortunate not to be injured.

Oddly enough, I do not think my brothers and I totally realized the significance of everything we were seeing as Bud was explaining. The man was a historian and he made it as interesting as he could for all of us, hoping we were absorbing what he was telling us.

As you observe family traditions and reflect on holiday memories from the past during this blessed season, I offer you my wishes for a merry Christmas and happy new year.

Next week: Al Sturgeon

Charese Yanney of Sioux City is owner and managing partner of Guarantee Roofing, Siding and Insulation Co. She serves on the Siouxland Initiative Executive Committee, the Orpheum Theatre Preservation Board, the Orpheum Theatre Endowment Board and the Iowa Department of Transportation Commission.

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