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December 14, 2015
This is my final 2015 posting.  I look forward to working with you to promote the values and value of the fraternal system in 2016. I grew up on a horse ranch a few miles outside of the small town of Hollister, California.  The hard pan soil in the field that fronted the road made it impossible to grow anything, but it did afford an incredible view of the Gabilan Mountains that separated our little valley from the coast.  From the house you could see the sun set over Fremont Peak and watch the fog roll in from Monterey Bay, about 30 miles to the west. Nativity 2Every December for as long as I can remember we set up a sweeping nativity scene in that field.  It was one of my family’s most cherished traditions.  One year during the day-long construction project one of my sisters was standing directly in front of one of the wise men, blocking the view of the figure from the road.  It was at that precise moment that my aunt and cousin drove by the front of the ranch.  When my sister waived at them my cousin thought it was the wise man and was convinced she had experienced a miracle.  We still laugh about that every year. My father was dying of cancer in December 1982.  Despite the sadness that enveloped my family, my mother was determined to set up that nativity scene.  So, of course, we built the most elaborate version ever.  The local newspaper – the Evening Free Lance – ran a picture of the illuminated nativity on the front page of the paper.  In subsequent days there were a number of letters to the editor commenting on the display. One of those letters came from an individual we didn’t know (which is pretty remarkable given Hollister’s small size) and whose name I have forgotten.  But she wrote that Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without that nativity scene set-up in the front field of the ranch, and thanked us for putting it up despite the sorrow she knew our family was experiencing. Our family later sold the ranch and my mom moved to a smaller house, but she continued to set up the nativity scene every year without fail.  When she passed away in 2006, I brought some of the figures home to Chicago and continue that tradition to this day – because it wouldn’t be Christmas without it. Here’s hoping that whatever holiday you and your family celebrate is filled with peace, joy, and cherished traditions.