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Marking the years with a dose of sentiment

Life in Our Mountain Town, Katie Shaffer

For many parents in town, it is the end of another school year. It can be a poignant time as some families will say their good-byes, and watch their children move on from preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, or college.

I’ve found that I don’t get terribly sentimental at these junctures in my children’s lives.

I’m not sure if this is because of my stoic East Coast upbringing, or because I tend to be in denial sometimes or because I tend to look forward rather than back.



Maybe it’s because my children always seem ready to move on, and therefore, so am I. Another reason has to do with how much I dislike being overly busy, which is what this time of year is all about. In mulling this over on the phone with my mother, she suggested that I’m not overly sentimental because I trust.

This time of year I am likely to have one of my children tell me, “Mom, I need money for the band dinner, which is tomorrow night.” What I have going on the following evening doesn’t register in my head until I check the calendar and note my conflict. Meanwhile, I dig through my purse for the money and hand it to her guessing that I will figure out which parent will accompany her later.




My husband and I are pretty good at juggling our schedules so one of us will make an appearance in support of our child. Generally, this time of year, it’s not just one band concert sprung on me, it’s a whole string of things. In fact, one band concert which somehow never made it onto my calendar, will then lead to a phone call asking if I can provide baked goods for the bake sale at the concert.

Since I will probably say yes, providing brownies for an event the following evening will translate into a trip to the grocery store that I had not planned to fit into my already jam-packed day, and time to bake, and then some kind of plan for getting the brownies to the high school.

You would think, if I was a mother who anticipated such requests, that I would have boxes of brownie mix in my cupboard, but I’m not that organized. I always seem to be one step behind on these kinds of details.

My next thought is to have one of my kids make the brownies. It’s the only way.

Despite all the scheming, I do believe that my days and evenings are full of wonderful stuff – it’s just unfortunate that it’s all packed into the last few weeks of school. Year-end concerts, recitals, tournaments – you name it, it’s happening.

To add to all the commotion, my husband and I are gearing up to sell a business that we’ve had longer than we’ve had kids. It’s a change of course for us, a closing of a chapter in our lives.

I’ve had mixed feelings about the whole thing, from feeling unsure to being certain. Through it all, I’ve been trying hard to trust that it will all work out.

Last night my husband informed me that our employees want to take us out to dinner next week as a thank you for the years of whatever it is we’ve done for them. I never thought we had done anything for these employees, beyond issuing them paychecks and saying thank you once in a while.

Most of them are seasonal workers who take off for Mexico in the winter. They generally do not read my column. I found myself touched, and feeling surprised at the sentimentality that crept in as I checked our calendar wondering which night we could fit in such a gracious offer.

I guess I am capable of feeling sentimental after all.

Maybe this shows me that I do deny my feelings sometimes, until an unexpected turn of events forces me to look back.

Something monumental, like the selling of a business is a milestone that bears marking with closure and feelings.

Other families will soon have a different kind of closure as they watch their child graduate.

I have found myself telling my ninth-grader that it seems like she was in kindergarten just yesterday. To her, that was years ago. To me, it doesn’t feel long ago at all. In fact, it was just one year ago that my youngest child finished up at the elementary school. At this time last year, my younger daughter was eager to move on to the next stage in her life, and I was right there with her.

With the sale of our business, I am trying to feel that way again, and when I don’t, I just have to trust that it will all work out.

Katie Shaffer is a Truckee resident. Life in Our Mountain Town appears every other week in the Sierra Sun.


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