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Beyond the Tinsel and Trees: A Christmas Message About Family

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As I get older, I feel like every year goes more quickly. This year’s no different—here we are at the week of Christmas, and sometimes it feels like the past 11 months were just a blur. But that’s also one of the reasons I enjoy the season so much because it makes me appreciate the chance to slow down and reflect. Sure, it can be a hectic time, but like many of you, my focus is on my family this time of year.

Carrying on Tradition

On Christmas Eve, my entire extended family will gather at our childhood home, just like we’ve done for many years. It's a treasured place, where all 47 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren can reunite to open gifts and celebrate Christmas together. All of the grandkids receive new Christmas pajamas, a tradition started by my mom many Christmases ago. (Even the older kids, who normally might feel like they've outgrown it, still secretly enjoy playing along.)

One of our newer family traditions on Christmas Eve is a drive around town with my wife and five children to see the Christmas displays. We usually start at the lights (that at least used to be) tethered across "Eisenhower Lake" between 63rd Street and Tomahawk Road (just west of the state line), followed by a particularly large illuminated pine tree a couple blocks away. From there it's on to the street luminaries just east of Ward Parkway, and then to Candy Cane Lane in Prairie Village, where we're always amazed to see all the homes participating, with thousands of lights and moving mechanical displays in their front yards. Then on to a coordinated display on Lee Boulevard that utilizes technology to integrate music and involve two homes located across the street from one another. To this day, all of my adult children (the youngest is 17) still insist we not deviate one iota from this excursion as we make our way back home.

Christmas morning includes one of my favorite family traditions. My kids will wait at the top of the stairs while I start up Nat King Cole’s, “The Christmas Song,” on the stereo. Once I give them the cue, I’ll hit record on the camera as they rush downstairs to open presents. As a father, it's always been one of my favorite moments every year.

Making New Memories

As we all enjoy a Christmas brunch together later that morning, I'll be reminded of the importance of these simple holiday traditions. Growing up, my siblings and I enjoyed similar Christmas rituals, and many of them live on with our own families now. They were such an important part of my life growing up, and helped me to fully realize how valuable family and friends are this time of year.

And our traditions are always evolving! Just a few years ago, we began a Christmas Day trip to our friends' home for a delicious Italian dinner. It's such a wonderful opportunity to share the holiday with our close friends as well as our family, and it gives us a chance to let them know how much they mean to us.

As you celebrate the holiday season with your family this year, I hope you're also able to take a moment and look around. This time is a good reminder of what we hope to do all year—to embrace those we love, appreciate all we have, and remember those who may be lonely and in need. Whether it's a client, neighbor or friend, welcome others into your family and share this special time with them! Soak in those images of your children's eyes alive with wonder, your family next to you at the dinner table, friends sharing the warmth from the fireplace. Take that moment to truly appreciate the wonder of the holiday season.

From me and my family – and all of us here at Country Club Bank – have a very happy and blessed Christmas!

What is one of your favorite holiday traditions? Share them on our Facebook page or on Twitter @CountryClubBank!

Author

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Paul Thompson

Chairman/President and CEO

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