Getting caught up in the chaos of Christmas makes it easy to lose sight of what’s really important: family, friends and others around us.

When we ask the question “how are you?” of others, are we really expecting them to answer us truthfully? Are we truly prepared for them to tell us how they are, what they’ve been doing or what their issues are? Or has the question become so perfunctory, we’re not expecting anyone to really answer us at all except to say, “I’m fine, I’m good, and you?” with both parties going about their merry ways.

Recently, while grocery shopping, this happened to me. I asked this question of someone I barely know but who had taken the time to approach me to extend pleasantries. “Hey, how are you, how’s it going?” I asked, unsure of what to say.

“Not so good. It really hasn’t been a good year for my family. We lost a loved one, and it’s been really difficult,” they replied.

I was completely unprepared, jolted out of my little reverie, because I never expected this person to truly tell me how they were. I did ask the question after all, but what was I expecting? If I wasn’t prepared for the answer, then why ask the question? My theory is that we’ve become preoccupied with self, so busy with our lives, we’ve grown oblivious of others and what’s going on with them. It’s not that we don’t care; we do. Maybe we’ve just become so ill-equipped to handle a conversation in person or one that doesn’t involve typing a reply and hitting the “send” button.

Perhaps my New Year’s resolution for 2015 should be to text less and talk more, truly listening to others around me.

4-H open enrollment

East Feliciana youth in ninth through 12th grades interested in 4-H are invited to join whether in public or private school or home-schooled. 4-H has a club for all students.

Leanna B. Cupit, assistant extension agent for East Feliciana Parish 4-H, says plenty of activities and events remain throughout the 2014-15 year such as 4-H camps for fourth- through sixth-graders or 4-H University for ages 13 and up.

A monthly sewing club begins Jan. 26. Plans are to start a cooking club as well, Cupit said. Cost to join East Feliciana 4-H is $5 per child/teen. Pick up an application to join 4-H at the East Feliciana Parish office, 4419 Idlewild Road, Clinton.

Cupit will be visiting schools in January.

Also, East and West Feliciana 4-H will join forces for the annual Feliciana 4-H and FFA Mini-Farm and Livestock show Jan. 16-17 in St. Francisville at the WF Sports Park Barn. Admission is free, and events are open to the public.

School and community displays, livestock animals, animal projects, agriculture displays, concessions and more will be featured.

Visit East Feliciana Parish 4-H on Facebook or @EastFeliciana4H on Twitter to learn more or contact Cupit at (225) 683-3101 for information.

Council on Aging at a glance

The following events are for the East Feliciana Council on Aging, 11120 Bank St., Clinton.

Friday: closed

Monday: arthritis movement exercise class at 11 a.m.

Tuesday: games

Wednesday: bingo at 11 a.m.

Jan. 1: closed

Jan. 2: arthritis movement exercise class at 11 a.m.

East Feliciana Public Transit provides transport for seniors to East Baton Rouge Parish Monday through Friday.

The Council on Aging also provides financial assistance to seniors 60 and older with emergency energy-related needs — gas or Entergy electric bills only. Call (225) 683-9862 for information.

Clinton Community Market

On the first Saturday of each month, vendor booths line St. Helena Street in Clinton selling arts, crafts, candles, food, plants, produce and more.

Market hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is no charge to set up a booth.

A band performs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Two local banks, Feliciana Bank and Landmark Bank, donate the funds used to hire the band each month.

Butch Hooge, of Clinton, is the director, and Al O’Brien, of Ethel, serves as volunteer vendor coordinator for the market.

The next Clinton market is Jan. 3. For information, call Hooge at (225) 719-1047.

Bluegrass festival

The 23rd annual Pecan Ridge Bluegrass Festival Camp and Jam, Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, brings in the new year with performances by bluegrass, gospel and old-time country bands that like to jam. Held four times a year in December or January, May, July and September, the festival was started by the bands themselves and just grew, said Pecan Ridge campground owner Alvin Havard.

Admission is free. Havard said shows Dec. 29-31 are likely to begin around 5:30 p.m. The Pecan Ridge Bluegrass park is at 4225 La. 952, Jackson. Contact Havard at (225) 629-5852 for information.

Send your Around East Feliciana events to Stacy Gill by 3 p.m. Friday for publication in the next edition of The Watchman. Email your news, photos and more to sgill@theadvocate.com.