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Column: A round of applause

You know what? I love to clap my hands. I really, really do.

Seriously, think about it. Every time you clap your hands, it's for a good reason. Even when the occasion is a somber one, clapping means someone somewhere has done something that deserves recognition.

And it can be anywhere, at any time. Last Friday, I clapped my hands and cheered on my 2-year-old niece Emma as she finally learned how to lift her little feet off the patio and successfully complete the art of jumping up and down. Her twin brother and her cousin, who's just a month older, had long mastered the skill, but Emma took a little longer. It was that way with her walking, too. But when we cheered, "Yay, Emma! Great jumping!" I don't think there was a happier little girl.

I got to clap on Saturday, when the pastor of my cousin's wedding told her new husband to kiss the bride. And later, we clapped during the colon cancer benefit when the organizers thanked everyone for attending and lending their support.

Monday night was a double-shot for a great reason. It was at the Farmington City Council meeting, in recognition of Ted Dau's retirement from the Farmington Police Department after a career of 30 years in law enforcement. We even gave him a standing ovation -- two, really -- when mayor Todd Larson presented Ted with a plaque of appreciation, and again when police chief Brian Lindquist gave Ted his badge. I'm pretty sure I saw a few tears welling up in Ted's eye, too.

For years, and for all of the meetings and events and concerts and everyday stuff that I've done around this community, I've always loved to clap my hands.

When the Farming-ton Area Edu-cation Foun-dation honored their award winners Saturday night, I'm pretty sure there was some clapping going on. After all, there were good people who have done good things for the community getting much deserved recognition.

Clapping comes in handy, too, for encouragement. Think about going to a sporting event. One of my friends has a daughter who plays softball in Farmington. Judging from the enthusiasm in Brenda's messages, I'm pretty sure she does a whole lot of clapping from the stands at games. I really wouldn't be surprised if there was some jumping up and down, too.

Or how about when student groups go to school board meetings to give a report on a trip somewhere? It takes a lot of guts to get up in front of elected officials -- adults! -- and talk about what they learned and experienced. And so when the clapping starts, well, that's a great way of congratulating the students for their achievement, both in learning and in simply making the presentations.

Think about that the next time you go to a concert. I remember grade school, just barely being able to get noise out of the saxophone I was learning to play, but man oh man, did we get a great reception -- clapping, no doubt -- when we finished our first concert. Maybe our parents were just happy it was done, but I'm pretty sure it was because we had done something good, something that made them proud and something we could be proud of.

Not every opportunity to clap hands happens at "fun" events. There are times when, at a dinner or a ceremony, you're doing that polite clap that comes along with the introduction of a speaker or a politician. Consider this, though -- there's a reason that person was asked to speak. Perhaps she's a breast cancer survivor and her message is about her inspirational fight to survive. Maybe he's the veteran who fought for freedom and came back home with a story to share. Even if he or she is just someone who was asked to lead an assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance, there's a reason he or she was asked and it probably deserves recognition.

And then, there's the simplest form of clapping. Just because someone said something funny and made you smile.

I did the March for Dimes' March for Babies in Stillwater two weeks ago. Imagine my surprise when I realized there were Farmington people working and volunteering there. But more surprising was the cheering we received as we passed the checkpoints along the route. And it was a little more surprising when I heard my name. So out of context! But it felt good to earn that little bit of recognition.

I don't think people realize how many times they clap in a week. But really, look around you the next time you clap your hands. Realize that there's a really great reason behind it. And if you haven't lately, take a look around. There's a lot of great things happening in Farmington that deserve that recognition.


Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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