Christmas is still a week away, there is no large Christmas tree in our house (just a couple of table-top fiber optic trees), but this already is the best Christmas I can remember. I have but a single gift for my daughter; she is struggling to find something I want or need for Christmas. And so am I. There is nothing of a material nature I want or need. There is simply nothing to be purchased that is on my 'have-to-have' or even my 'would-be-nice-to-have' list.
I am blessed with savings and a government pension to support me through my old age. My health, save the bursitis and arthritis, is very good. I have a wonderful daughter who has overcome more trauma in her almost 18 years than most people will face in a lifetime. I live in a beautiful state with wonderful outdoor opportunities. I volunteer with two non-profits whose causes I hold dear: feeding the hungry, and educating people about wolves. I enjoy many opportunities to photograph nature's beauty, and I have time to continue working on the book I am writing. I can look out my living, dining or bedroom windows and gaze on the massive Sandia Mountains nearby. Through my volunteer and leisure activities, I have made some good friends.
My daughter disliked the large public high school she attended and was struggling with several of her classes, so she will finish her senior year via correspondence school, which will result in her obtaining a diploma from a boarding school in Utah while living at home. She has but four courses remaining. So she is closing in on an important milestone in her life -- getting a high school diploma. For one so young, she has a remarkable insight into herself, her learning style and her way of dealing with things.
She should find out on her birthday whether she will get a part-time job at a local Wendy's restaurant, something she has wished for for a long time. An incident earlier this year caused both of us considerable stress and anxiety, but it now appears that we soon will be able to put that behind us and look forward to a happier year in 2012.
This year I am even more aware that Christmas isn't about decorated trees or holiday parties or spending huge amounts of money on "the perfect gift" as the never-ending television commercials scream. It is about being grateful for the blessings in our lives, it is about appreciating all that we have that so many others do not (whether it be a place to live, a job, food on the table or good health). It is about doing things for others, not from a sense of obligation, but because we can and because it is the right thing to do. It's about being grateful for the little things -- blessings all -- that make our lives so special. And it is about remembering the reason for the season.