What the Holidays Mean to Me

The Holidays are a time where we get to slow

Santa bustin’ a move on the Lower Yough

down, get away from work, and focus on what is important. We don’t need to concern ourselves with the bustle and hum of daily life for a little bit and instead turn to what means the most to us. That refocusing makes the Holidays intensely individual and meaningful on a personal level. My Holiday isn’t your Holiday – and I like it that way.


So, what does this season mean to me? What do I see as intensely personal? What do I find meaningful on a personal level?

First, I am thankful. I give thanks to my Creator that I even got to be here, to ride this most amazing roller coaster we call “life.” I am thankful for all the people in my life – my family, my friends, those I work with, those I play with. I am thankful that I still have purpose and have been given an incredible chance to help those around me. I am thankful that I married a wonderful lady who bore our amazing son (who is a great kayaking buddy!). I am thankful that I have had friends for over 40 of my 49 years on this earth who I still talk with, hang with, and – occasionally – still get into a little trouble with. I am thankful that I get to meet new friends almost daily. And, I am thankful that there are more friends out there who I’ve yet to become acquainted with. Team River Runner has provided me with an incredible opportunity to meet new people – and for that I am also thankful.

Secondly, I am intentional. I don’t just treasure these people and experiences, I reach out and let them know. That is partly why I am writing this final blog of 2016 – to let those who I’ve not yet been able to personally tell yet that I am thankful for them being in my life know just that. I make it a habit to call, email, tweet, post, chat, or otherwise communicate with my friends and family to tell them what is going on and how they have affected my life. I reach out to meet new people who might not yet have heard about TRR or thought that they, too, can drop their butt in a boat and paddle. I seize the opportunity to go out and put my own butt in a boat and find the peace that I need to continue on.

Lastly, I am not alone. This is probably the most important aspect of the Holidays to me. I visit family, spend time with friends, and talk with loved ones both far and near to let them know I am thinking about them and still love hearing about what is happening in their lives. In fact, this Christmas, I have stumbled into the opportunity to paddle one of my old home rivers (the New River in WV) with my very first kayaking partner.

Bill (left) and Steve (right) working the New River in 1996

Steve and I met at WVU in 1985 and have rock climbed together, worked EMS together, kayaked together, and so much more ever since. Steve is a travel Nurse and found himself working in our old home state over Christmas. I found myself visiting my family in WV over Christmas. One text led to another and before I knew it, we had planned a return to our old stomping grounds to spend time together in an environment that we both find incredibly healing and peaceful. Along with Robyn, we will run some easy whitewater, tell stories, eat some good food, and generally remind ourselves that we are not alone.

My wish for all of you (or as we say in WV, “all you all”) is that you can be thankful and intentionally reach out to those who are important to you so that nether you nor they are alone during this Holiday season.

To each of you, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Blessed Diwali, and Happy Holidays from Team River Runner.

Paddle on!