by Dave Elston, Special to the Roundup

The fast pace of the holidays is finished. Presents have been opened, friends and relatives have departed, and it’s time to consider New Year’s resolutions. It’s also a time for new beginnings.

A recent walk around my small town confirmed that the pace of life in Christopher Creek has indeed slowed down. It always does this time of year. Many “Creekers” have winterized their homes and returned to the Valley. Others visited for a weekend to light the fireplace, cut a Christmas tree, and throw a few snowballs. The real estate office doesn’t see much walk-in business this time of year, the market doesn’t sell much ice to campers and one of our two restaurants and community-gathering places is closed for the winter season. It would be safe to assume there’s not much going on up here, but that’s not really the case.

Every day, just as faithfully as the creek flows, our snow-quieted town is staffed with dedicated restaurant workers, friendly store employees, and highly trained first responders. We are safe, well fed, and well stocked with whatever we need. And, we go on caring for and watching out for one another. That’s what we do.

In a community as small as Christopher Creek, it seems we are all linked together by the strong, invisible threads of friendship and caring. That’s exactly why I like it here. Our daily newspaper is often quietly placed on the doorstep in the early morning, even though it usually lands under the car when it’s delivered.

A perpetually kind man of 90-plus years brings us our mail each day. He also plows our driveway when we’re not looking ... or asking. Others read the Roundup and then deliver their neatly re-folded copy to us. Friends go shopping in Payson and somehow always know when we are out of bananas.

The reliable propane man takes his coffee black and strong with one packet of sugar.

Neighbors take care of our yard as if it’s their own when we are out of town. Some of us find a freshly cooked meal in our refrigerator, and sometimes “extra” cookies and baked goods appear on our table, or even the front seat of our truck. We even care for each other’s pets because they, too, are part of our community. It’s not that we have nothing else to do — it’s that these are the right things to do; the right way to live, whether in a small town or a large city. Kindness results in closeness, which leads to compassion, respect, and caring for each other. It’s the way things should be, but seldom are. Washington, D.C. could learn something from us.

My family moved from Indiana to Scottsdale in 1959. We lived in the dusty, undeveloped north end of the city limits, closer to Carefree than to the nearest store. Our few neighbors became close, genuine friends. Today, after 55 years in the hustle and bustle of a productive and rewarding life in the desert, I have traded cactus for pine trees. I am back where I started — in a warm, welcoming home near the end of a long, dusty road. I am surrounded by kind, compassionate people from all walks of life.

This year as we consider resolutions and new beginnings, make a note to consider those in your community who are less fortunate than you. Volunteer if you can, visit an elderly care facility, be a good friend or neighbor to someone, thank a policeman or fireman, and take good care of yourself, too. Let’s all make 2016 a great year!

Thank you to Rod Britain for asking me to fill in for him this week. As he always says ... “that’s another week in the Creek.”

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