Why I wear a tie

It’s the definition of love.

Every morning (or the night before if our tired minds let us think ahead) I pick out a tie and my wife ties it for me. She has much perfected this art compared to my fumbling hands, and it probably makes her feel better that I’ll be put together enough not to embarrass myself during the day ahead.

It’s a relatively new phenomenon for me. Like many, I used to only get really dressed up for a few occasions — weddings, funerals, church on Christmas and Easter, when we were chaperoning a dance at my wife’s school and when the big bosses were in town. I’d never been against looking nice, but I typically got by with a dress shirt and polo, slacks and dress shoes.

In May, however, I spent my first days as publisher at The Advertiser-Tribune. Already possessing a look that is “youthful” for my actual age, I knew I’d have to act and dress a little bit different. I wanted my employees and the community to know that I was serious about my business. In the back of my mind, I thought about those few and far between times when I actually dressed up, and how it made feel. Look good, have confidence.

Thus I decided to update my style when I took on my new role.

I’ll be the first to admit I still don’t have the best taste. Betsy, and her eye for fashion, certainly has helped, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact I’ll never be cutting edge.

Wearing a tie certainly isn’t cutting edge, and the reason I selected it as my accessory of choice isn’t cutting edge either.

As a second-generation newsman, I guess I have grown up to be my dad. My father was and still is a newspaper publisher, and childhood dinner table conversations gave way to me pursuing journalism as a career and ultimately leading toward the role I currently am in.

As long as I can remember, my dad showed up to work every day in his dress shirt and tie, sometimes straight-forward, sometimes revealing a sliver of his personality and sometimes being a little silly. The latter is the case with like the Christmas themed tie of snowmen playing baseball with broomsticks and snowballs that I wore to The Courier Christmas lunch Thursday.

Every day I wear a tie, I am paying homage to my father, a man who helped shape me to who I am today. From the time I started as a publisher until the day he retires, I can close my eyes and picture him sitting at a desk just like mine, dealing with some of the same problems and thinking through some of the same solutions I am. It reminds me I am only a call away, and when stress comes into play, I know that I am not on an island. No, I’m not the smartest guy in the room, and the tie reminds me to not be afraid to ask for help.

As I get dressed for the Christmas Eve service in the coming days, I’ll put on a tie like I do every year, but this time it will bring on extra meaning. While my family is now more spread apart than ever, I’ll feel a special connection to my heritage (my publisher father and my lifestyles editor mother), which for better or worse helped get me to the point I am now at.

Of course, Betsy will tie it for me, another reminder of the support system I have.

For a New Year’s resolution, I’m going with learning how to better tie a tie.

Merry Christmas, all!

Jeremy Speer is the publisher of The Courier in Findlay, The Advertiser-Tribune in Tiffin and the Review Times in Fostoria. He can be reached at jspeer@advertiser-tribune.com.


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