Sunday, December 25, 2022

A season of hope, peace, love and renewal…



A quick message this Christmas morning from West Newbury Vermont.  The picture above is from a chilly dawn this morning at sunrise, looking across the “Upper Connecticut river valley looking into the White mountains in New Hampshire.  This beautiful village has meant a lot to Jennie and her family for decades, and I have had the chance to get to know it since I was welcomed into this family almost 40 years ago.  Last night, at the village church (built in 1832, pictured below) we attended a wonderful and moving Christmas Eve service where Jen’s father lead the music and her sisters and nieces sang as part of the service. 



 It was a lovely, poignant, and moving night and the pastor shared a homily that really touched my heart.  He reminded all of us that Christmas isn’t a single day, but actually a season of twelve days (remember the “partridge in a pear tree??”) where we get the chance to slow down and reflect that this season, regardless of your specific religious beliefs or traditions, is a time for hope, peace love and renewal for all.  A time for all of us to realize how fragile life truly is, and how the world, our communities, our families and ourselves all need more love, peace and hope in our lives and especially in these challenging times…. we have the chance to use this “season” to find that path for “renewal” in our relationships broadly, and as I often quote from Dr. martin Luther King Jr.,


I refuse to accept the idea that the isness of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the oughtness that forever confronts him.


I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, filled with the "oughtness" that lies in front of all of us, and a season filled with hope, peace, love and renewal!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Pants for Christmas


As many of you readers know, or can certainly pickup from my essays over the past 12+ years, I am extremely proud (and very fond) of our company… Bolthouse Farms.  I will save the professional reflections and appreciations for another essay but suffice it to say that I continually find my time at Bolthouse Farms challenging and inspiring.  The company is based in Bakersfield California, a tough/gritty city in southern end of the San Joaquin valley.  The local industrial base is centered on Agriculture and Oil and the community is relatively poor and faces many challenges.


One tradition at the company that I am so proud of is our annual “adopt a family” program during the holidays.  It’s a time where we “adopt” a number of very needy families (this year 40) and we buy the entire “Christmas wish list” for the family.  We don’t just collect money for a financial donation, we actually buy, wrap and deliver the gifts to the families right before the holiday… this year I went to Walmart to buy a bike for a little 10-year-old!  Different departments take a specific family and their “wish list, and as a group pull it all together… it’s pretty incredible.


A week or so ago we realized we had one family “left over” that hadn’t been assigned to a specific department/team so Cathy dove in (of course, she always rocks!) and pulled the list for the last family.  It was a family that included a few kids and there was a solid list of toys and goodies for the young ones but the “wish list” for the parents was very slim, and specifically the “Christmas wish list” for mom was a pair of pants… nothing fancy, nothing flashy…. Just a single pair of pants.


The ”wish” of  “pants for Christmas” for the mom floored me and ultimately inspired this essay.  When was the last time any of us asked for a pair of pants ( or socks, or an “undershirt”, or a belt….) on a Christmas list??? It made me think about this family…and their needs (and wishes) this holiday and boy did it slow me down.  Forget about the business challenges at work (and we have a few, ha!!) …forget about the challenges of travelling during the holidays…forget about the ”Christmas lists” for families and friends ( none that include a pair of pants)… think about this family on the SE side of Bakersfield and their needs and challenges this year!  Perspective and appreciation often come from unseen corners, at unexpected moments, and this year the “adopt a family” program really stopped me in my tracks!


So many families across the world, and in our communities and neighborhoods close to home, are facing challenges this holiday.  We often are too occupied with our “busy lives” to see this reality but it’s there… and its everywhere! I hope this essay will “nudge” a few of you readers to take a moment over the next few weeks and find a way to “share” a little of what you have with those in need; maybe collecting canned goods for a local foodbank, donating to UNICEF or another organization committed to supporting children and families in crisis around the world, or finding your own “adopt a family” program in your hometown…. I hope you all can find a path to give back to others just a little bit more than usual this year.


As for “our adopted family,” all the gifts have arrived, (including the pants!) and are wrapped and ready to go to them next week.  The picture below is of a few of our “Santa’s helpers” and one of our trucks filled with all the gifts for all the families ready to be delivered….its incredible!!


I am hopeful that these presents can bring some smiles on Christmas morning for all the 40 families in Bakersfield, and maybe your generosity over the next few weeks can bring smiles to many more!

Merry Christmas!