Jonathan Gramling
                                    End of the Year Reflections
At 66-years-old, this does become somewhat of a challenge for me as my Achilles tendons stiffen up the next day from the extended work
time on my feet. And this year, I had to go back to the store two additional times for ingredients that we underestimated. But I am loathe to
give this tradition up because it is a special time for Andrew and I and family does appreciate the personal touch we put into our gifts every

The next day, Christmas Day, we have an additional celebration at my brother Jim’s and his significant other, Linda Vazquez. We stay at their
house and are joined by Linda’s family and Jim’s friend for a Christmas brunch that features an exchange of laughter and presents. We do
this once a year and it is always very enjoyable.

And then, it is invariably back to Madison to start work on Christmas afternoon on The Hues. On Christmas night, my son’s car had a flat tire
and he borrowed mine and I asked him how he was going to get it fixed before he headed back to Milwaukee On December 26th to catch a
flight to California to spend time with his mother and her family including Andrew’s half-brother. He said he didn’t know expecting to drive to
a service station to inflate it the next morning.
Well he got packed up to go and cleaned the house and fed his rabbits getting ready to go by 8:30 a.m. I had gotten up around 5 a.m. to
continue to work on the paper to meet my 2 p.m. print deadline.

When it got time for him to go, it seemed to me that he hadn’t done anything to take care of the tire. There was that side of me that said,
‘Just let him deal with it. If he doesn’t make his flight, lesson learned.’

But instead, I said, ‘Do you want me to drive you down to Milwaukee?’ I pictured him stranded on the I-94 as his tire deflated once more and
him missing his flight and a chance to spend time with family that he only gets the chance to once per year. And I remembered my own
father bailing me out on occasion as an adult.

And so, I missed my print deadline and anticipate getting printed on Thursday morning. But that is what the holidays are all about, especially

Sometimes we get so focused on our careers and reason for living, so to speak, that we fail to pay attention to the changes in our lives. I
haven’t had a vacation in 13 years, since January 2006 when I visited my son in China where he was teaching English as a Foreign Language
in Hefei.
When I celebrated Christmas at my brother Tim’s, I went downstairs to get a beer mug in the basement. And there was this group of young
adults sitting by the bar in the recreation room and I was left wondering whatever happened to the giggly great nephews and nieces who were
children just a year ago, or so it seemed. When did they become young adults? In my preoccupation, I had missed all of that and I was left to
wonder what else I have missed out on.

After I get this last edition of The Hues out, I will experience my first one-week vacation since I started putting The Hues together, just about
13 years ago. People ask me where I am going and I tell them, ‘Nowhere.’ It will just be nice to not experience a deadline for a week or have
a task that needs to be accomplished.  I don’t want to have any thoughts that I am required to think. I don’t want to have any negative vibes
for a week. I will probably meditate and go walking and clean house if I feel like it. It will be nice and I won’t waste about 29 percent of my
time travelling to and from some destination. It should be just lovely.

And so I will see you on the other side of this wonderful week off. The nest time that The Capital City Hues will be published is January 14,
2019, out King Holiday edition.

I hope your holiday season is beautiful, filled with wonder and happiness and memories. And IU will see you in 2019. And remember to be
safe out there. We need you and love you!

As you may remember, Heidi Pascual continued to be The Capital City Hues webmaster after she moved back to The Philippines in 2011. She
recently revamped our website with a new masthead and look featuring a lot of graphics and photos. I hope that you will check it out at

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah and just general good vibes to you all!
While our dateline is December 24th for this issue, there was no way that The Hues would be ready for
the printer on Monday morning, In between work on the paper, there was Christmas shopping to do. For
the past 38 years, it has been the tradition of my household — when I was married and after — to
exchange presents on the morning of December 24th, get ready after enjoying the presents that we
received to go to Milwaukee for the extended family celebration on Christmas Eve, which is when my
mom and dad gave us gifts as kids and we continued the tradition into adulthood.

When my mom, bless her heart, and my dad were alive, we would gather at their house to exchange gifts
and then party until the wee hours of Christmas Day. When my mom died in 2005, my brother Tim took
over the hosting duties.

Ever since my son Andrew returned from China back in 2011, he and I have baked our Christmas
presents to the extended family. We have baked cookies and brownies of all sorts and sizes. This year, we
made gingerbread from scratch with individual serving cups of vanilla ice cream. And we make enough
for 40-60 people over the course of six hours before we pack everything up and head for Milwaukee.
by Jonathan Gramling