Resolving to reflect

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Jennifer Patterson and son Samuel.

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Debi Toews and Monte Willis

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Jerry Meza

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Frank Reser

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Barbara Stubblefield

Christmas shoppers and other downtown visitors were reflective as 2011 came to a close.

Several who were interviewed last month said the year was kind to them and they looked optimistically toward the future.

They also seemed filled with the holiday spirit as they hoped for a better world and a pickup to the local economy.

Here are some highlights of the revealing - and often candid - discussions with your neighbors and friends.

The year 2011 is one that Walla Walla attorney Debi Toews will never forget.

Her eyesight was saved by the receipt of corneal transplants.

"I'm very, very thankful for the donor families who have allowed me to see," she said.

As for the new year: "I'd just like to have an uneventful year. With five eye surgeries (in 2011), it was eventful enough."

Her law partner, Monte Willis, is hoping the economy improves and more folks get back to work. "I hope the people don't have to depend on the charities we think of this time of year," he said.

Much of his world revolves around his 2-year-old daughter, for whom he is eternally grateful.

"She's healthy and happy ... I'm very fortunate to be a dad."

Jerry Meza recalled "the unexpected" when mentally reviewing 2011 - the shootings and gang problems afflicting the local area.

"But it seems like our Walla Walla's finest have it under control," he said optimistically.

He also reflected on our nation's accomplishments: "The (Iraq) war has ended, which is good. And we got Osama bin Laden."

Sous chef at T. Maccarone's, Meza said he's had a good year in the restaurant business, but sympathizes with farmers who had to cope with harsh conditions early on. "(They) did suffer a lot because of the weather," he said.

Overall, "I hope everything comes out better than (2011). I hope that every family has a meal every day."

It's been a good year professionally for Jennifer Patterson. She left a company she had been with for 14 years to start her own training and consulting firm in Nashville, Tenn.

Here for a visit, she said, "I just feel really blessed to be with family and friends."

Patterson was holding her 4-year-old son Samuel and has another child on the way. "I was so busy in my old job I didn't have a chance to enjoy what I had," she said.

It seems Samuel freely dispenses hugs and kisses, and Patterson observed, "If the world had more of this, the world would be a better place. I wish we would be kinder to each other. God has given us the great ability to love."

She said she also would like to extend the holiday spirit by resolving "to figure out how to really get plugged into my church and community to give back."

In thinking back over the past 12 months, Frank Reser of Waitsburg feels very fortunate considering mounting economic problems many others face.

"I'm a retired teacher and a lot of people are struggling," he said.

Although at first reluctant to formulate any New Year's resolutions - "because I always break them," he said - some charitable goals did come to mind.

Someday he would like to get involved in Habitat for Humanity. And, "I resolve to be less self-centered and look out for the community at large a little more," Reser said.

"When I start feeling sorry for myself, I start realizing a lot of folks have it a whole lot worse than I do."

‘It was a great year for me," Barbara Stubblefield said. "I did a lot of traveling."

Listing off multiple exotic locations, the Walla Wallan added, "Tanzania was my highlight. It's downhill from here on."

Her New Year's wishes always have included world peace, although she's kind of given up on that.

But she certainly wants people to be kind to each other. "For people to be reflective and to think about other people and to care about the earth," she said.

Any resolutions?

"No," she concluded. "They never last. I'm too old. I used to try ... Then you have guilt feelings."

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