Vol. 11    No. 26
DECEMBER 22, 2016
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                                 Holiday Reflections
One of the easiest columns to write these days is about Donald Trump and his appointments to key positions in the U.S. government. While I am
sure that someone is cheering them on, most of the people I associate with his horrified by his appointments even if they look upon him more as a
buffoon.

But I need to put these thoughts aside, at least until The Hues’ King Holiday edition. With all of the crap going on in the world, I hope that I am still
capable of writing a holiday column, one filled with joy and meaning. And there is a lot of good to remember if I just take the time.

I received an email from my stepdaughter Jennifer a couple of weeks ago. We had been estranged until recently, much to my delight. She had
scanned the announcement that said she was finally getting her college degree from Hinds County Community College in Jackson, Mississippi.
Although she has people in Jackson, Jennifer has been relatively struggling to get by as a single mother of two daughters. And yet as she turned
40-years-old, Jennifer finally earned her degree. While she took the hard route to get there — as so many of our young people do — she attained
her goal and I am so proud of her.

I emailed Jennifer back immediately to let her know how proud I was of her. And then later I sent a more practical congratulatory note in a
graduation card to her. So it is never too late and we can rejoice in that.

It’s now the day after Christmas and my son Andrew has taken off on his annual trek to California to spend time with his mom and half-brother.
Andrew does not like to flu, so he takes that 50+ hour trip on the California Zephyr. He spends his time reading and playing games on his Tablet
and doing a lot of reflection.

During the past few months, Andrew has taken on a new attitude. For several years, he seemed to be stuck in the same old routine of working at
Pasquale’s where he is a cook, earning various belts in Kung Fu and scanning the Internet for news and games to play.

But now, he appears ready to venture forth. He told me that he is forgetting about the past — I’m not sure what all in the past he is forgetting and
probably won’t ever know — and id focused on his future. He has a lighter spirit and seems to be focused and getting things done. I feel this time
that things are going to happen. And I can rejoice in that and have hope.

And like so many good intentions in my life that have never been practically put into effect for the long haul, I am trying one more time to do some
regular exercise to get in shape. At 64-years-old, I am not getting younger as they say and the margin for error between good health and bad health
is getting oh so narrow.

So a friend of mine talked me into joining a health club with a personal trainer. So we started working out with Michelle Naff of Phitness Plus. Naff
runs Phitness Plus with Haywood Simmons. And although they usually work out of the Badger Rock Neighborhood Center, they have a contract
with the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County to operate the fitness center that is now the top floor of the club’s Taft Street facility. And since I have a
53713 zip code, their target area, I can get two one-hour sessions per week for a full year for only $50. Such a deal.

So I have made a commitment to my personal fitness that I have never made before and I think I will follow through because I am doing it with a
friend. I have never been maintain an exercise regimen on my own.

And if perhaps to put an exclamation point on my decision, Andrew got me sweat pants, a sweat shirt and a dual grip xerball for Christmas. The
gods must be aligning to get me to take better care of myself and my health. If I am going to keep publishing The Hues, I need to be physically up
for the challenge. I hope and pray that I keep my commitment. And for this, I can rejoice and be thankful.

And it was a wonderful time visiting with family during Christmas. My extended family — up to around 50 people if everyone is present — always
get together at my brother Tim’s house on Christmas Eve, continuing a tradition that was established by my late parents, Jim and Clare. We all
bring something to eat, which creates a smorgasbord of hors d’oeuvres. My son Andrew and I always bake something for the table, usually
cookies that we also give out as Christmas presents. We could probably afford to buy everyone something from the store. But creating something
from scratch is much more meaningful and in our opinions, delicious.

My family has owned land in Dousman, Wisconsin, 30 miles west of Milwaukee, since 1847 when our people first came to the United States and
settled in Wisconsin. Over the years, the land ownership has dwindled as first this parcel and then that parcel was sold off. We recently sold the
last bit of land that my mom had held onto because my generation is getting up there in age and it was decided that the land would be sold so that
it wasn’t passed down in miniscule amounts to the next generation.

And yet, I was not ready to give up the ownership of this land that I had known of and visited since I was old enough to remember. I rarely went
there over the past 20 years or so, but its presence was important to me. Call me a sentimental fool, but I wasn’t ready to give the land up fully.

This year, in conjunction with my nephew Matt who is a carpenter, and Andrew, we made 30 small wooden boxes with a replica of the old
Gramling Homestead sign on the back of the box. I had gone to Dousman before the land officially left our ownership, dug up some of the ground
and took it back to Madison. We placed some of the ground in plastic bags and placed the bags in the wooden box with the notation, “Still in
Gramling Hands Since 1847.”

The gift was gladly accepted by everyone and even some of the grand nephews and nieces wanted one to always remember where we came
from. And for that, I can rejoice as well.

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year everyone!