Let’s take a few minutes, shall we, to spend with our memories.
Specifically, I’d like you to recall those individuals — outside of parents — who had the most positive impact upon your life.
Who made a significant difference in who you are today?
Were any of them teachers? Probably. Most of us can recall at least several teachers who made lasting marks upon our lives.
I vividly remember our 4th grade teacher, Miss McFarland, for her gentleness and love. And I recall that somehow in that Depression year of 1939, she made sure that every classmate of mine who came to school without a lunch, received a sandwich and milk. I still do not know how she did it.
I recall my 7th grade teacher, Miss Swanson, for her exacting, yet fair, standards; Mr. Bristow because he believed in me when I most needed affirmation; Dr. Kernodle for treating me with respect, for trusting me and for challenging me to be better than I thought I could be.
Beyond teachers, who else made a difference? For me, there was my scoutmaster, Mr. Burroughs. A busy executive with a lovely wife and no kids but us. The scout troop loved him. He was always there for us and he taught us lessons about life and how to live it.
Then there was that tough, but wonderfully sensitive Dave Torbet. A prizefighter turned professor-poet. Most of my macho-posturing evaporated after knowing Dave. He showed me that the only human qualities that mattered were inside me. Because of him I determined that my youthful masculine veneer would never turn into the aging crust of arrogance.
Most of us have been lucky enough to have folks like these in our lives. People, who by their example or words of encouragement, helped us become better human beings.
Those same kind of generous folks live right here in Prescott — and in Chino Valley, Prescott Valley, Dewey and beyond.
Some of them teach in our schools. Some work with youngsters in scouting, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, YMCA, Prescott Area Leadership, the Hungry Kids Project and other organizations.
Others volunteer in less visible ways, yet make a difference no less impactful. We don’t often hear about them, but there are many grateful individuals who know their names and owe much to their counsel, skills and love.
Well, Christmas is a couple of weeks away. Please consider expressing your appreciation to those family members, friends, shopkeepers, teachers and other individuals in our community who are making a positive difference in the lives of others. Take a moment to commend and thank them. For most of them, your thoughtful words will be among the most precious gifts they will receive this Christmas season.
And in thanking them, let’s reflect on why their caring concern and humanitarian efforts are so important in our lives. The Jewish philosopher, Hillel, gave voice to a pretty good reason: “If I am for myself alone, what good am I?”
Merry Christmas ... and may your new year be filled with joy, happiness and personal fulfillment.