The holidays have arrived and all the decorating, preparation, and shopping that can be done should, by now, have been done. Now is the time to turn our attention to the reason for the season. For most of us that reason is the birth of the Christ child, our savior and redeemer, our model for living.
We know the Christmas story from long ago, the Christ child born in a manger, the most humble of places for Mary and Joseph to deliver the Savior. A setting much different than the birthplace of most of the readers of this column. We lather ourselves is creature comforts, perhaps excessively, and become comfortable with our existence as a result.
There are times that a break from these comforts is needed in order to find those things that are most cherished and represent the true blessings we have. I have a renewed sense of the blessings I have and I wish to share those with you, for I believe these are not too distant from most of you.
First, I am grateful for the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I am grateful for Christ, who died for my sins, an expression of his love for me. I am grateful for the belief in the Christ and to live in a place where I can explore and express that belief without fear of retribution from government or others with different beliefs.
I am also grateful that I can allow others to have different beliefs and make their expressions as they wish. I see more and more, our young people making expressions of their belief. I applaud when I see Tim Tebow and others pointing skyward after a touchdown, expressing their thanks for their abilities and talents. I believe this is accomplished with education, and I have the benefit of much of that. Education in America is abundantly available, and is often overlooked. I am also, at this point in my life, able to give back a bit as an educator and help shape the future of America. I believe that a worthy pursuit to help shape the youth of the future.
I am richly blessed with family. Though my parents have passed, my wife and I have six wonderfully healthy and gifted children who are successful in their own way. When I think of the odds that all of these children have made it to adulthood without significant health issues or some catastrophic incident, it humbles me. When I add seven grandchildren to the list - well, I am moved to tears of gratitude.
I have a wonderful bride who has endured with me in the effort to create and raise this brood, and while I do not always show it or express it, I am eternally grateful for her abilities, wisdom and caring attitude. I have a brother and sister, younger than I, and we have lost our older sister and brother recently, and far too early in life. That has made our bond a bit more special when we communicate with each other and we are quick to share stories that would have otherwise gone untold.
I am grateful to be an American and all that is offered as a result. I have been fortunate to have traveled to most regions of the world, and I have seen poverty and oppression that is unimaginable. I am grateful to have served my country in the military, to have learned from a system that inspires, motivates and creates leaders. I spend time thinking about how it came to be that I was placed here, at this place, at this time as opposed to some of those places visited where the daily challenges are of a different nature.
On this Christmas day, I will take the time to study and celebrate. I will study the Bible and literature, the record of the birth, the travels of the wise men and the gifts of gold and mere. I will ponder the Christmas story. I will review my list of blessings and I will ponder the larger questions of our creation and purpose.
I will celebrate the rich blessings of this life and the gift from my maker. I will ponder the universe, the vast universe, beyond my ability to comprehend and wonder if life, as we know it, exists elsewhere. As I sneak into the autumn days of my life, I will review my contribution to the world, set my priorities, and aim for new directions. I will celebrate and I will be grateful.