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Christmas Blessings

It appears that I have lived to see another Christmas Eve.

I make this observation because every year at this time, I wonder if I’ll be here one year from now. I began this indexing many years ago. Without it, I might take being here for granted, and I don’t want to do that.

Thank you, Jesus, for all the people and circumstances that make life so rich. Please give me the good sense to take advantage of the joy and wonder that is so abundant, especially on the eve of your birth.

With all honor and respect to those who have other beliefs, I would like to see us put Christ back into Christmas, and out of government. Not to be contentious, but if you have a political agenda, Lord, you have not revealed it to me.

I believe, rather, that you are on hand to guide us past our own bad impulses, should we be smart enough to turn to you. I’m not the most ardent of Christians, but the lessons learned in a dozen eclectic country Sunday schools serve me well. I still find comfort in the tattered bible my mother gave me in 1945, when she could ill afford the dollar or two it cost.

What I could use from you, Lord, is a good dose of the tolerance I so rightly demand from others. We believe differently, and act differently, and so there has been a lot of ambient anger this year. Help me get over it.

“And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

You must have a purpose in my sticking around. In the last couple of months, I have survived major surgery, and several extended forays into holiday traffic in the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Madhouse.

I’m 69, going on 98. My body has always been a vessel carrying strong genes and bad habits. But when I get down on the floor to play with my dog, I can still get up by myself. Thanks. By accident of birth, I was born in the most colorful state in the most comfortable nation on earth. I quarrel with the way things are run, but I’d be foolish to want to live anywhere else.

I am blessed by the presence of Miss Ellie, whose gorgeous smile reaches into my soul and lights it up. We married late in life, and our conflicting eccentricities make for hours of interesting conversation.

To this mix, we have added a schnauzer named Fibber, a dancing dog who likes to fly into my lap, arriving with the impact of a hairy bowling ball. He is occasionally aggravating, frequently delightful, always an interesting companion.

I treasure a family that keeps growing, and becoming more diverse. A couple of years ago, a friend pointed out that I was lucky to be around to enjoy my great-granddaughter. Now there is also a great-grandson, and yes, I’m lucky to know them.

Four generations of us will gather at my daughter’s house this evening. Tomorrow, part of Ellie’s family, and part of mine, will gather here to administer the last rites to a brave turkey.

There is sorrow in the world, and that’s part of the deal. My pal Jim Willoughby died December 11 at age 76. He was a big man, in many ways. We, too, met late in life, so I could complain that I did not have enough time to enjoy his wit, his kindness, his talent as an artist.

But I treasure the time we did know each other. We collected his letters, illuminated with caricatures of me, pretty sketches of Miss Ellie, and drawings of beautiful birds. Many people are going to miss Jim.

In the program he designed for his own funeral, Willoughby said he wasn’t looking forward to an afterlife; what counted was a life well spent.

Lord, help us to invest well in this time — Christmas Eve, Christmas, and whatever lies beyond. Moment by moment.

Last 5 posts by Jim Cook

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