2008-12-25 / Features

Christmas Idea Had Lasting Effect On Neb. Family

By Eric Freeman COLUMBUS TELEGRAM

COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) - Holiday traditions help to define the Christmas season and connect the generations through the years.

Holiday tradition for the Bill and Shirley Wegener family of rural Platte Center includes find- ing unique ways to let their family members and friends know they are loved and appreciated.

Two years ago, the Wegeners and their four children wrote 20 separate notes describing their favorite memories of Earl and Helen Wegener of Humphrey. Earl and Helen are Bill Wegener"s parents.

The family hid their notes throughout the elder Wegeners" home and waited.

In the two years since, Earl and Helen have found the notes at unexpected times hidden away in unexpected places.

"At first we looked all over to find the notes," Helen said. "We found them in the cupboards and under rugs. Some were tucked away in the back of the refrigerator." After several months, Helen said, she and her husband thought they had found all the notes, but every now and then they would find another one tucked away in some obscure place.

Bill Wegener said his parents were excited when they found the last note in that cupboard. He said they called the rest of the family members to let them know.

"It was really neat how much that meant to them and how easy it is to make a positive difference in someone"s life," Bill Wegener said.

Bill has another method he uses to remind folks how easy it is to make a positive difference.

Several years ago he began what he calls his "Make a Difference Ministry."

Wegener had a stamp made that asked the question: "What can you do to make a difference in someone"s life today?"

He stamps index cards with the thought-provoking question and leaves them at random public places for strangers to find.

Wegener has left the cards at restaurant tables, the shelves of local retail stores and occasionally under the windshield wipers of parked cars.

"I think if we can get people to think about what they can do to make a positive difference in other people"s lives it could become a good thing that could grow and spread," he said. "If the cards make someone think and do a good deed or something positive for someone else, that could spread out a long way."

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