If you haven't taken a Sunday drive around Windom recently, you really should. The community has a little different look these days. And I'll start with my neighborhood. Less than a block from my driveway sat the Johnson Motel/Family Inn/Guardian Inn Extended Stay Motel. Not any more. As you can see in the photo above, the motel is gone. In fact, if it were not for the large ring of dirt in the lot, you might never know a motel existed there. The location has been cleaned up nicely and according to the story on page 1 the site will become the new location of the hospital's helipad. One suggestion, however, don't try to enter the lot by way of the motel's former entrance. The corrugated metal culvert that ran under the entrance has been removed and the ground has been landscaped back to a ditch that runs parallel with Highway 71 in that location. It is the third motel in the Windom area razed in the last 15 years. The first - and we have to go back a few years - was the Chateau Motel which sat just north of the Driftwood/Seventy-One Supper Club about two miles north of Windom. The second was the Blue Star Motel which sat between Messer Machine & Manufacturing and the Windom Laundromat. And now the former Johnson Motel/Family Inn/Guardian Inn Extended Stay becomes the last of the community's older motels to be razed. Windom still has two motels - The Guardian Inn Motel in North Windom and the Windom Motel in South Windom, which are both capably serving customers. Busy fire department The Windom Fire Department also is contributing to the changing look in Windom. A few days after local firefighters answered a call to a barn fire at the Gareth Holmen residence recently, the department conducted a practice burn at the corner of 13th St. and 8th Ave. Smoke was billowing from the site on the coldest Saturday morning of the season last month. The burn drew some spectators, most of whom watched the fire from the comfort of their vehicles. Even the firefighters admitted that the best way to keep warm on this day was to keep your back to the wind and stay as close to the burning house as possible. After the house was burned to the ground, that corner has taken on just a bit of a different look. The trees that surrounded the house are still there, offering a somewhat shaded and guarded lot. Christmas reminiscing Our family hosted my side of the family for a combined Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yep, there were presents and a whole lot of excitement for the kids - and a whole lot of good food for the adults. But as I watched the younger generation open their gifts, it occurred to me how much presents have changed over the years - and how much they've stayed the same. For instance, almost-6-year-old Wilson received a remote control car that changes colors and rotates its body according to the situation it's in. Such a toy, when I was a kid would have broken the bank, probably in the $150 to $250 category - 40 years ago. Now, it's a $20 to $30 present. While new technology is expensive, old technology can be just as popular with the youngsters and a lot cheaper. And while each of the nieces and nephews got a present from the other aunts and uncles, occasionally a gift card - that piece of plastic unheard of even 10 or 15 years ago - was attached to a smaller gift. While some believe gift cards are so impersonal, I didn't see the youth in our family minding one bit. On the other hand, they were pretty excited to open a gift that they could put to immediate use. But there were also some gifts that continue to stand the test of time. While Legos have become more specialized, they still tickle the fancy of pre-teens to young teens and basketballs and footballs can always be put to good use. Let's face it, for the young sports enthusiast, it's hard to see a ball of any sort go out of style. Young Wilson found the game "Operation" among his gifts and got a kick out of it as much as I did 45 years ago. Even though the game has taken on a bit more of a 21st century look, Wilson was having a good time as he tried to remove headphones and a cell phone from the patient's head. Is that a statement on today's society? But I'm still waiting for someone to resurrect the popular '70s "electric" football game. I know, I've got a long wait.