A little boy I once knew, who is no longer little, is graduating from college today. How can it be? The years have literally flown by. He was the child who first made me a grandmother. My little Christopher Todd Petersen, who arrived on his great grandmother, Joann Schulenberg’s birthday, changed my world…adding such a wonderful new dimension to it. My heart was filled with joy.
Chris had such a cute smile, and he made the cutest faces. He soon wowed us with his ability to make all the animal sounds on demand, and made us laugh as he emptied out any box or basket of its contents so he could climb in a sit a while. He was all boy…and the culture shock I had never experienced before, because I had daughters…well, believe me when I say, “Boys are very different from girls!!” I don’t mean just physically, but in every aspect of their being, from the physical…to their personalities. Nevertheless, having three grandsons and one granddaughter has been one of the most rewarding parts of my life, a blessing beyond words.
Fast forward now, a little over twenty years, and suddenly that little boy is graduating from college. His dream is to own his own restaurant, and who knows, maybe even a chain of them. He is graduating as one of the top of his class from the Culinary School at Sheridan College. Even that seems like it flew by. Literally, it seems like yesterday that he headed off to college, calling home often to tell everyone just how homesick he was, and now he emerges…a man, with a degree. He is a chef…not a cook…a chef, with all the respect that goes along with that title. He has made good friends in Sheridan, and for now, has decided to stay there to live and work in a fine dining restaurant called Open Range which is located in the historic Sheridan Inn. Chris loves working there and tells us his coworkers are great.
He is living his dream. He has been very blessed to be able to work in such a restaurant before his degree work is even complete, and today Open Range becomes very blessed to have a chef working for them who has earned his degree, and brings with him the prestige that his degree carries with it. With his skill level and attention to detail, Chris will be bringing with him a level of recognition that Open Range can be proud of. It is a win-win situation for both of them. Chris has really taken to the style of creativity that is vital to fine dining, and he will be showing that great skill level to the people who live in and visit Sheridan in the future. Congratulations Chris!! Your hard work has paid off. We, your family and friends are so very proud of all your accomplishments. We wish you God’s very best in all your future endeavors!! We love you very much!!
Years before you arrived, I already knew that I wanted to be a grandma. It had been so long since this family had a baby in it, and sometimes a mother’s arms long to hold their grandchildren long before they have any. We were so excited when we knew that you were on your way. The waiting seemed endless, but finally the day came when we knew the time of your arrival was here. I loved you from the moment I first saw you, at the very moment of your birth. You were our first grandchild, and you were a boy…something new to Grandpa and me, and a bit of a culture shock as it turned out, but an exciting change for us, nevertheless.
I look back now, on the years that have past and reminisce about how wonderful it was to have you in our lives. You were our smiley boy. You came up with the funniest, most precious faces. You smiled and laughed with your whole face…and you smiled and laughed often. You loved climbing into clothes baskets, after you threw out all the clothes, of course. Your mom might find you hiding under a table, in the closet, or behind the door. Any place would work, just as long as you could pop out and play peek-a-boo. We never knew where you would be the next time, so you kept us on our toes. I loved watching your little face light up, whenever we found your hiding places. You got so excited!! Your goal was always to follow in your daddy’s footsteps…as well as his boots, as often as your got the chance. It didn’t matter to you, where he was going, because that was where you wanted to go too. You two are so much alike. And, I loved the way you made all the animal sounds perfectly. You knew them by heart, and you were so proud of your new found ability.
The years have gone by so fast, and I can’t believe that we have already arrived at your 18th birthday. Soon you will be heading off to Sheridan to go to Culinary School, and before we know it you will we the proud owner of your own restaurant. You have shown such great skill and imagination is your culinary arts, and I can’t say that I am surprised, because you have always be an imaginative guy. We are so proud of all your hard work and we know you will be a great success in the restaurant business. My only regret is that the years have gone by so fast, and your childhood is over now. While you have been excitedly counting down the days, I have found myself trying to put the brakes on the passage of time, but that cannot be done.
To each of us comes one childhood, and when it is over, it is simply over. There is no going back, even though many of us wish we could sometimes. Gone now is the little smiley boy, and in his place stands a man, ready to take on the world. While my heart aches just a little bit, because you are going to be going away to college, I know that I can’t stand in your way. I also know that you will take with you all the memories and the good teachings you have received in your childhood. You make us so proud as you start this new journey, and all I ask is that you don’t forget your way home, because we, your family will be looking forward to each and every time you are back with us. Today is your 18th birthday. Happy birthday Christopher!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!