I don't believe in Santa. Never have. Nope. Not even as a kid.
My earliest Christmas recollections never included the jolly, present-wielding elf. That guy lived in department stores and - in my hypercritical child mind - was guilty of an annual breaking-and-entering spree of global proportions.
For me, Christmas focused entirely on family. PJs. Fireplaces. Laughing. Games. Old traditions and new memories. We spent the season together - thankful for our little corner of the world and, most of all, thankful for each other. As I've aged, Christmas ushers in a season of true gratitude. I am blessed beyond measure with family and friends, with health and love, and with a workplace rich with people I respect and enjoy.
So on this - the last page of the last Noble Research Institute publication for 2013 - I want to thank some special members of my Noble family.
Thank you to our environmental services crew. I still don't know how 10 people keep 500,000 square feet of research and administration space spotless, but you manage to make this place shine. Every visitor to the Noble Research Institute comments on our cleanliness.
Thank you to the landscape crew who trims, mows and edges our campus into a haven of horticultural perfection.
Thank you to all the facility, maintenance and utility services teams, who keep this place together and humming. You do your work quietly and with a smile. Simply put, you are the backbone of the organization.
Thank you to the ladies in the cafeteria, who cook more than 50,000 meals every year and - don't tell my momma this - bake the best cookies.
Thank you to our construction team - who can build anything (and I mean anything), even a cotton gin (for the new Grown For You mobile classroom) and a Las Vegas sign (what happens at the Noble Christmas party stays at the Noble Christmas party).
Thank you to the research associates, assistants and technicians, as well as the lab assistants. You all keep the science moving. The principal investigators would be sunk without you.
Thank you to the ag service technicians and the ag research technicians who brave Oklahoma's blistering summers and bone-chilling winters to manage our field work.
Thank you to our computing services team who not only have the daunting task of explaining Windows 7 to 350 people, but manage a computing network that would make Bill Gates cry.
This list could go on and on, but I'll stop and just say "thank you" to all the men and women who dedicate their lives and their energy to the Noble Research Institute. You make a difference every day to this world and to me.
If there was a Santa, you'd all definitely be on the nice list.