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The Year That Was


The first column of the New Year can be many things – a look back, a look ahead, a way of taking stock of where you are, a road map of where you want to go. Or it can be just a space filler.

Obviously, the goal is to impart something, be it a little wisdom or a chuckle or two, enough to keep you coming back, looking for the column from month to month.

This edition? Call it a hodgepodge of thoughts as we close out 2015 and jump into 2016.

We’ve managed to make it through another year and navigated the holidays safely, with lots of family celebrations and visits with close friends. At the newspaper office we also got to share in the joy with Leader sports reporter Dennis Cruz as he and his wife welcomed their first child – a boy – early Christmas morning. A few weeks ahead of schedule but the best holiday package delivery ever.

My daughter experienced some newfound joy in having her own hard-earned money to spend on Christmas gifts for people and delighted in finding just the right (although sometimes I thought strange) items for people on her gift list. Luckily, there was nothing strange about what she chose for me and everything under the tree with my name on it was either a)wearable; b)consumable; or c)useable so that made it an especially good day. My oldest stepson also gifted me with the perfect three-pronged package: a new mystery-thriller book to read while I drink the herbal tea and wrap up in the exceedingly warm and cozy blanket. Doesn’t get much better than that.

This week, though, my daughter and I are enjoying the holidays all over again, taking the opportunity for a ‘winter break’ and spending time with family in upstate New York, celebrating Christmas and New Year’s with them, a little after the fact. My mom promised to keep the tree up for the festivities and, though they had temperatures close to 70 degrees on Christmas Day, we’re hoping we have a little bit of snow for our visit. It would be nice to get my daughter out for her first experience ice fishing but it’s unlikely we will find a lake deeply frozen enough for that.

There was some irony, however, as they had record-breaking high temperatures back east, I more than once had to scrape ice off my windshield here over the past couple of weeks before going to work. Frost has been quite evident and a little backyard kiddie pool that had water in it for the dogs actually crusted over with a layer of ice. Very cool looking but also a little scary…

It does seem that the El Nino they promised us is here and thankfully so. We might get tired of a series of rainy days but there is no doubt it is doing the snowpack some good and will add much-needed water to the reservoirs come spring.

Personally, there are certain things it would be nice to accomplish in 2016. Making some sense of my desk would be the place to start but it seems like I say that every year so I’m not so sure how far my organizational skills will take me. It also won’t be a fast process, as it has taken years to create the multiple piles that surround me as I sit here pounding on the keyboard. I recently unearthed a notebook from February 2013 while looking for one from December 2015 … that’s a sure sign I need to do a little ‘spring cleaning’ this winter!



Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.