Reflections On This Very Special Year

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You have officially one week before Christmas is in officially your memories category, stored in the “windmills of your mind,” the way one of my grandfather’s favorite old songs went. Almost as quickly as it comes every year, I am amazed at how quickly the evidence of Christmas gets stuffed back into boxes, swept up, and stored again until next year. When I was a child, Christmas seemed to last forever.

I remember having just as much fun with the boxes the gifts came in as much as the gifts. Isn’t that always the way? I loved being an inventor, always designing something with my boxes. It would also lead me to take up designing things on the computer, something I still enjoy as a hobby today.

Another thing I enjoy is making lists; my team knows I always have a checklist going somewhere. After my dad passed away, the holidays were hard for me, I must admit. So, one of the things that helped me worked through my loss was to make a list of things that I was grateful for that happened that year, a year-end recap.

This year is no different. After Chelsea and I put up our tree at home and our team put up the tree in our funeral center, I started my gratitude list. What happened this past year has been overwhelming, in terms of the gifts we have been given as a local family-owned business. You, our community, have embraced our new funeral and cremation center. You’ve come by to visit and see us, all year, even when you didn’t have an immediate need. We so appreciate that.

As I’m sitting in my office, I’m looking at my list of reasons to be grateful this year.  Above everything else, I’m so appreciative to have my family in my life. Beginning with my wife, Chelsea, my mother Lorene, and all the other relatives we have, it’s a special gift to be able to spend time together.

When you’re young and you travel to see grandparents (if they don’t already live in town) you remember all the sights and sounds of the laughter, songs, and TV shows on in the background. If it’s cold outside and you have snow to play in, you remember that. In Texas, especially in Bryan, we’re usually in shorts and t-shirts outside in the sunshiny, cool day while friends and loved ones are inches deep in snow, trying hard to build a snowman.

The next reasons I’m grateful are gathered right outside my office door. They are the amazing kind and caring staff who make up our team here. During the course of this year, they’ve caused us to be voted tops among our peers here in Bryan-College Station. And, there were other accolades that came our way as well and what brings us all satisfaction is when we receive thoughtful notes and letters from you all, when we are able to walk you through the days after your loved one passes away.

I’m especially proud of our new funeral center being completed and its being considered a valuable part of the renovation of College Avenue in Bryan. We both needed a facelift and ours is complete and Bryan’s is catching up too, when those bulldozers leave the intersection of College and Villa Maria! My joy is in the number of families who told us we designed a building that they were comfortable in, where they felt at home. No better compliment could come our way.

Our Brazos Valley is home to so many vital nonprofits that serve children and families and it’s our pleasure to be involved with several of them. Our participation in and support of Hospice brings us pride because they are such a great organization. I love carrying on the third generation of membership in the Bryan Rotary Club.

With all the good things they do in our community, it means a lot to be one member in a very large group of dedicated volunteers. We enjoyed attending the Hispanic Forum Scholarship Gala as well this year.  Scholarships mean the world to young people trying to navigate the huge costs of going to college today.

And, I also got to combine my love of golf with local fundraisers. Our team played in the Gary Blair Charities tournament, the tourney for Twin City Mission, the Chamber of Commerce Lobster Fest, and the tournament that benefited the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra. This community is so generous that every time there’s a need, there are wonderful people who step up to help.

By nature, I set goals and monitor progress on those goals all through the year, trying to measure success in reaching the objectives I put forward and pursued with intensity, either solo or with the wonderful team of folks we have here. Yet, the one thing I learned most, through this year of the greatest transformation we’ve ever enjoyed in the history of the Callaway-Jones family, is this. When you step out in faith and believe the best in people, and do your best to keep the values and standards of your family uppermost in your mind, then success comes to those willing to put in the hard work.

The year 2017 is leaving as fast as it came in. May 2018 for each of us hold exciting new opportunities, challenges, and opportunities to show kindness and respect to others in our community. No one person is as smart as all of us, and together let us go forward in hope, faith, optimism, and continue to make Bryan-College Station the best it can be.

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