It is Christmas Time of Year. A time of cheer. A time to celebrate life. A time to wish goodwill. A time for family. A time for laughs and celebration. A time to be happy.
But for me, Christmas 2020 came this past summer.
For me, Christmas 2020 came when my family — two kids, their respective spouses and three grand grand kids — travelled all the way to Kentucky Lake and spent a few days with us at our most favorite retreat.
For me, Christmas 2020 came with hot weather rather than an icy chill; came with a splash island rather than a sleigh ride over snow; came with a cool Coke rather than a piping hot mug of Coco.
But, nonetheless, it came.
For me, nothing could ever be better.
I got to unwrap a whirlwind week full of laughs, giggles, and hugs that turned into memories and photos that will last a lifetime in my mind and albums.
I got to hold my grandkids in my lap and ask them what they wanted. And, when they told me, I made damn sure that they would get it, and I would laugh with my own bowl full of jelly.
I got to sit outside by the fireplace and tell stories about both Brad and Alex. Some funny. Some sad. Some truth-to-life. Some a little exaggerated. But all good times. All. Good. Times.
I got to go on boat rides that will sail into the mystic of my mind forever.
I got to shoot fireworks.
I got to take them on a Mule ride, over the hills and dales of West Kentucky.
I even got into the lake water. And, these days that only happens when the grand kids are around. The lake can’t handle the sudden submerge and the subsequent rise in water levels.
Christmas is set for Dec. 25 of each year. It is the day that we set aside to celebrate and raise a glass of good cheer. It is set in stone. It is to be. And, that is OK.
Be, in truth, we can make Christmas any time of year. Any day of the year, to be honest. All we have to do is stop and see what we have; what we love; and what we should cherish and celebrate. That very moment in time. That very second. After all, that moment may not last until Dec. 25. It may be gone come then. It may be too late.
On this Dec. 25, I will stop and give thanks. Undoubtedly, we will give presents and give hugs. We will honor the day for what it is and what it is supposed to be. We will say a prayer for peace. We may actually mean it, too. We will celebrate all that is good and just and right — even though there’s not as much of all those things that there used to be or should be. Or so it seems, alright.
But for me, even if it is just for a second or two, on Dec. 25 I will drop my head and remember the days that a fat, old man with hair too long and memory too short had the greatest time of his life.
And, I will thank God for my two kids — Alex and Brad, who are way too good to be my kids. God, I love them so much.
I will thank God that both of them married people like Evan and Kate, both of whom are way too good to be in our family and both of whom love my grandkids more than possible. God, I love them so much.
I will thank God Almighty for my three grandsons — Ford, Jack and Mac. Each one so different. Each one so special. Each one a star that shines bright into my night. And, will forever. God, I love them so very much.
I will thank my God for giving me Leigh Ann, too. I said it on our wedding day in Argentina so many years ago now, but it still holds so true today:
“When I found you, Leigh, I found me.” God, I love you so much.
Just a couple of years ago, when I laid in a Louisville hospital Emergency Room and the doctor came in to tell me that I was not going to make it and to go ahead and call my kids to say goodbye (which I did, by the way), I asked my God for just one more chance, if possible.
Not that I deserved it, mind you.
Just because I would cherish it.
I promised that I would not forget.
I promised that I would forgive.
And, I promised to be a better person.
Most of all, I promised to give more and take less; I promised to reach out and help more and take less for granted; I promised to love more. Lots more. And, I promised to give thanks for each and every day that I awake and to try my best to be the best person I can be each and every day.
I know I have fallen short on many of those promises. Shame on me.
But I also know two other things, too:
One, there is heaven on this Earth, if only we look for it and grasp it along our journey.
Two, there are miracles every single day, if only we open our eyes and are able to see what is given us along our journey.
The Summer of 2020, I got to go to heaven on this Earth. And this living miracle got to spend some time with some other “miracles of life,” too. It was amazing. It was truly amazing.
As we get ready for this week, I wish you all the same blessings.
I hope yours is as good as mine.