For Release December 24, 2006

Christmas Presents of a Different Kind


by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

Christmas presents come in many different shapes and styles. Some are meant for kids, some are meant for adults and some are totally unexpected and quite unusual. Some of my favorite Christmas presents, however, have not come from stores and they have not had a price tag on them.

I was recently flying through a large airport. Weather and equipment delays strandedme there for longer than I had planned on. Traveler's nerves were frazzled and the mood was less than fun. An airline grand crew employee stepped up to the ticket counter, grabbed a microphone and started to speak. He apologized for the delays and then asked the somewhat restless group to enjoy a little holiday present from him. He then broke into a Christmas song, White Christmas, I think, and he was really good! The restlessness and the tenseness just melted away as everyone enjoyed the music. He finished up and everyone broke into applause! I have no idea who he was, but his little gift of song put everyone into a much better mood!

On the way home, through the same airport, I had a long enough layover that I could take time to grab a bite to eat. As I was finishing my sandwich, motion out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. A father with what appeared to be twin 4 or 5 year old sons was rising from the table. The little boys had their backpacks theat they were traveling with and were swinging them about as they tried to put them on. The father didn't yell at them, he simply waited until they both had them situated and then said, "Are you ready, gentlemen?" Both boys nodded their yes and they started to leave. I involuntarily cracked a big grin and the father saw it. He smiled back and the trio was on their way to their flight. Many parents would have been chastising the boys for swinging their packs around or fussing with them or just acting upset. This father knew the routine that his boys had to go through to get them on their backs, no one was in danger of getting clobbered with one of the little backpacks and he let them do the task on their terms. I hope Santa is very good to all three of those gentlemen!

Living in the Great Plains, we take the horizon for granted. The fact that most mornings we can watch the sun break over the edge of the world, and watch it set the same way is something we never give a second thought. Earlier this fall, my wife and I had the chance to meet up with a "friend", an electronic pen pal if you will, that we had never actually "met" in the ten or more years that I have known her. We are fellow birdwatchers and we were on the southern coast of New Jersey watching the seabirds migrate south off the shore. We stood there for fifteen or twenty minutes watching birds and sometimes just watching the horizon. Laurie turned to me and said, "you folks from the Great Plains don't understand that for many of us to get our dose of the horizon, we have to come to the ocean."

Laurie was right. I did take that for granted. I took the horizon, and the wide open spaces and the miles of unobstructed prairie for granted on a daily basis without even giving it a second thought. What a fool I was. We have, at our fingertips, what other people seldom see or travel hundreds if not thousands of miles to experience for even a few hours.

Perhaps the best Christmas present any of us could ask for, is the ability to recognize the special things that we have around us on a daily basis, that other people may only dream of. Here's hoping that you find that special Christmas present too! Happy Holidays everyone!


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