January 23, 2012, 5:00 pm
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2011 was a huge success for a good friend and neighbor. I watched as his big smile graced his face numerous times over the year. Did he shoot his best buck ever? No. Did he hit the lottery? No. Did he purchase that new, hunt ready pick up with all the bells and whistles? No. So what, you ask, did he celebrate?

Celebrations can come in many forms. It may be that best hunt ever, taking the best deer we've ever seen. It might be taking that first buck, or even the first deer. It might be getting that new truck or boat that you have saved religiously for. It might be that first hunt you shared with your spouse, child or grandchild. It might be overcoming that challenge to provide for one's family, or overcoming that illness or disease. It might be that visit with long lost friends or loved ones that finally came together. Celebrations don't have to be life changing events, but rather can be small events that were unexpected or came as a great surprise. I remember attending a baby shower hosted for my daughter by friends and family. She surprised both her husband and myself with a small gift; a little gift bag for each of us. When we opened the bag we each received one side of a pair of camo booties; the celebration was instant. Her husband and I both knew we were awaiting the arrival of a songrandson. As the father of two wonderful daughters I have no regrets, but was excited at the prospect of being able to introduce a new family member to the great out-of-doors.

So, back to the start of my story. What, you ask did my good friend and neighbor celebrate in 2011? His voice broke the morning I saw him when he said "Kyle's plane just touched down". He, like all good dads, was anxiously awaiting the arrival of his son back from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He was a nervous hen throughout the year, keeping me informed of how his son was doing. I knew all along he was extremely worried that something might happen. His elation at his son's arrival back to the US was not only evident, but contagious. We all celebrated. Soon after his son's arrival he was keeping me informed of when he expected his son to visit home. After returning Kyle had to undergo debriefs and re-acclimation to returning to a normal life style. We all celebrated when my neighbor gave us the date his son and his wife would be back in Georgia. We celebrated when Kyle arrived home; it was great to once again see the once young teen that had developed into a mature young man. My neighbor could not wait to get his son back into the deer woods. No surprise that Kyle soon had deer on the ground; a couple of does to fill the freezer. We celebrated. Then a big moment as Kyle put himself in the position of taking his best buck ever; a very old, 10 point buck with a fantastic old rack with over a 20" spread. We celebrated. Then another cause to celebrate as Kyle and his wife announced that they would be first time parents in the Spring of 2012.

My neighbor had many reasons to celebrate and I am most appreciative that we have a relationship that allowed me to celebrate with him. I look forward to continued celebrations; whether with friends or family. Celebrations are fun, interesting, and a positive influence in my life.

I hope 2012 provides you many opportunities to celebrate and that you take advantage of those opportunities. Best wishes.

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