By JEFF JOBE
Christmas customs in small-town America probably mirror the 6 counties we serve for local news right here in South Central Kentucky.
I’m sure each community is as fond of their customs as the next one and I take great pride in knowing our family newspaper has been documenting them for 20 years.
We have already printed photos from 5 Christmas parades on our pages and will have another half dozen before we publish our biggest newspaper of the year; our Santa Letter Issue.
For 20 years Jobe Publishing has been blessed with a community of local businesses and families who help us provide this space absolutely free for thousands of elementary students across our region. It would not be possible without our growing readership and loyal advertising partners.
It was this time of year back in 1997 that I made my first drive to visit the region and to begin negotiations for the purchase of the first newspaper; the Butler County Banner and Green River Republican.
My career and experience were comprised from working inside major newspaper chains that had me chasing the next promotion for the better part of a decade.
In that decade I had lived in Louisville; Rochester, NY, Lorain, OH; Charleston, WV; Key West, FL and short stays in a dozen other US cities and a few in Canada.
But in 1997, my world had evolved significantly since July of 1995 with the arrival of my son Donald Wyatt Jobe. All the fancy dinners, cool rental cars, imported cigars and the idea of the next promotion or bonus couldn’t fill the void I felt from spending days or weeks on the road without seeing my son.
I remember this particular Christmas season my son telling me and his mother all he wanted for Christmas was a little red tractor. As a new father I even encouraged him to want more but he was determined to only ask Santa for a little red tractor.
My first visit to Morgantown was a quiet visit without the previous owner knowing I was in the area. This was customary inside the corporation I worked for when contemplating the purchase of another newspaper. I worked for Thomson Newspapers and had negotiated several buys for the company over the few years I worked for them.
This visit to Morgantown just happened to be a few hours before their annual Christmas Parade and if there was one red tractor there was a dozen in the parade.
It was after dinner when I got home from the day in Morgantown and as I was bathing my son and telling him about the red tractors he asked; “do you think I can see those tractors someday?” I responded, I’m pretty sure you will son.
Needless to say, my son and I have enjoyed dozens of hometown Christmas Parades together and we even participated in a few ourselves.
But that Christmas as he opened present after present with red tractor after red tractor showing up everywhere I will forever remember him saying with excitement; “Look dad, Santa knew I wanted to play with you so he gave me a whole bunch of little red tractors!”
The looking for red tractors has now been part of my Christmas tradition and I am comfortable every single parade in South Central Kentucky has at least one red tractor and I’m comfortable if you look close enough you will find one pictured in the coverage of your hometown Christmas Parade.
Jeff Jobe is founder and CEO of Jobe Publishing, Inc. His commentary reflects his personal views and does not reflect the views of personal or professional associations and affiliations. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his previously published commentary at www.jobeforkentucky.com