When I think about what makes the holidays special, the word “tradition” comes to my mind. We had many family traditions growing up, but one thing we’ve always made a priority each year is giving back. It’s something that has always been a part of our family, and something we make sure to continue each year.
One of my very favorite traditions is ringing the bell at Christmas time to collect money for the Salvation Army with my son, Albert. We started this several years back, and we look forward to it all year long. It’s incredible (and humbling!) to stand out in the freezing cold in the middle of December and bear witness to the true generosity of the people in our communities as we request donations for those in need.
My son Albert is now grown, just married this past October, and living in Columbus. And while we can’t always make it work to be together to ring the bell, it’s a tradition that lives on through him. This year he and his wife Sarah stood outside our new Parkcenter Panera Bread café in Dublin, Ohio on another chilly December day and rang their bells. That’s the beautiful part about traditions… that they are passed down and are carried on.
Our family tradition of giving back was instilled in me by my late father, also named Albert, and it’s something we will continue forever.
As I take stock this Christmas at the close of another year, I just want to say how grateful I am to our guests and friends for their support and patronage. It is because of you that we are able to keep up our family tradition of giving back to the communities we serve. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!