Ladies and gentlemen, with the Christmas season upon us, I can’t help but think back to times when I was a young child.

Those anxious, sleep-deprived Christmas Eve nights where I wondered what would be under the tree the following morning. Holding a lit candle at Christmas services at church. Spending time with those we hold dear – some of whom are no longer with us today. Looking out the window of the old family van as Dad and Mom drove their children around to see the lights.

Yes, Christmastime was, and still is, a special time of year. It’s a time where we can spend time with family, fellowship with those who are near and dear to us and remember the reason for the season.

We should be thankful for where we are from, and McKinley Hobart “Mack” Sauer (1896-1960), whom we’ve chatted about over the past few weeks, felt the same way about his community and his country.

Sauer was noted for his poetry as well as his prose. Perhaps his most famous poem is one entitled “Whatcha Gonna Be?”

I find it fitting in this season, and as another year draws to its ineluctable conclusion, we let Mack Sauer propose, “Whatcha Gonna Be?”

“When you get big, whatcha gonna be?” I say to my lad as he climbs on my knee. He says he’s gonna run a newspaper press, or be a band leader in fancy dress, or sell ice cream cones, like his playmate’s dad; ah, the plans are many of this little lad. The Russian lad on his daddy’s knee isn’t asked, “Whatcha gonna be?”

It’s not up to him, it’s up to the state, which rules his life, which determines his fate. In Germany, too, where men aren’t free, what folly to ask, “Whatcha gonna be?”

Oh, I’m thankful to God that in America still, my little boy can be what he will; he can choose his faith, his vocation, his all, and he knows not of a dictator’s call; what a blissful joy with my lad on my knee, to say: “When you’re big, whatcha gonna be?”

Merry Christmas, everyone, and remember the words of Mack Sauer: “Love each other. And be happy.”

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company, is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees and is a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at roush_steve@msn.com.