I cannot believe today is December 1. I’ve mentioned before that each year seems to fly by more quickly than the last. It seems like yesterday that I was preparing the 2022 Christmas Anchor edition. Zoom! What you have in your hands, in the blink of an eye, is the 2023 Christmas Anchor edition, albeit as far from actual Christmas Day possible.

But I’m going to concentrate on Christmas Day for this column. Hey, why not? Christmas commercials start right after Halloween, so by secular standards I’m way overdo.

I like to think back over Christmases past (and no, I’m not a ghost), and this year I don’t have to time travel too far in the Wayback Machine ala Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman. In fact, these recollections include my dog Igor.

Ever since the first year we brought the little devil dog home from the farm in 2002, she embraced the Christmas season as much as anyone in this family.

It warms my heart to think back to putting up the Christmas tree, dressing it up with warm lights and decorations made by my kiddies when they were in fact kiddies, wrapping it up with garland and topping it off with an two angels; one a tree-topper and the other an angel with the name and date of birth of my son David Joseph whom, as most of you know, we lost in 1996.

Once the tree was up and the tree skirt laid at its trunk, Iggy would circle the glowing branches, find just the right spot and nestle under the tree night after night — in the same exact spot.

That first Christmas, 2019, after Iggy had crossed the Rainbow Bridge was a sad, sad first day. So much so, that I bought a stuffed dog that had the same coloring and looked much like my Border Collie-Australian Cattle Dog mix, and placed it under the tree for the season, along with a dog toy we had bought her for her final Christmas. We’ve done that ever since.

And the memories of Christmas morning are still as bright and crisp as a chilly December night. Iggy would make a B-line for the tree as soon as it was sunup, find a new spot to plant herself that wasn’t covered with brightly wrapped parcels, and wait for us to get up and head downstairs. And she wasn’t a patient waiter. She would moan and sigh loud enough to make us giggle and get up.

She would patiently wait for her gifts to be placed before her, and then she would gently, and I mean gently, tear the wrapping off. Iggy was rough on toys, so we made sure that we bought toys that were “dog proof.” No such thing with her. After her gently dispatching the wrapping she would devour the toy until the white stuffing resembled clumps of snow on the floor. Not a single toy saw December 26. I so miss those Christmases.

As I said time flies, and it was in 1995 that I started at The Anchor, starting a wonderful journey on which I met wonderful people, especially those readers of this column who would take the time to write to me — good or bad.

Well, the time has come for me to call it a day. I will be retiring as of Jan. 31, 2024, and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all whom I worked with over the last nearly three decades — those still with us and those who passed over their own Rainbow Bridges.

But most of all I want to thank you, those who said so many wonderful, heartwarming things to me over the years. I love that so many of you feel that my family is yours. Be assured dear friends that you will always be part of my family.

This Anchor journey went by far too quickly, but it is time that Denise and I get to enjoy each other full time. For the first time in our 45 years of marriage neither of us will have to work.

This is my second-to-last My View from the Stands and second-to-last edition to edit. I will miss this, and I will miss hearing from you all. I send out a great big thank you, and be assured if I could give you a big old bear hug, I would. So consider this a virtual big old bear hug. Be well, Merry Christmas and all best in 2024. 

And once again, thank you.