The clock is ticking. Christmas is almost here. Do you have all of your shopping done yet? Aside from perhaps a few stocking stuffers, I do. For the most part, I can now relax and watch the world go mad around me. Of course, it helps when you only have to buy for two people.
I don't know what surprises and mysteries await me under the tree this year. I think I've been pretty good, but you'd have to ask Santa (and Teresa) for a more unbiased assessment. However, even if there is nothing under the tree with my name on it, I have already received some wonderful gifts this Christmas season.
The most recent of these gifts was received yesterday. I had a friend at work tell me about her first time back on the ski slopes since suffering a knee injury last year. The joy and expression of pure glee on her face was almost child-like and is something I hope all of us can experience at least once in our adult lives.
A second gift received this week was the glimpse of a white-tailed deer crossing the road while I was driving into work. It helped remind me that there is great beauty in nature, even when it is cold outside.
The third gift came from my son, Christopher, who is trying this year to take a Christmas tradition in a slightly more healthy direction. He wanted to show his concern for Santa's health by making sure we have low-fat milk on hand to put out with Santa's cookies on Christmas Eve.
The fourth gift is one I have enjoyed off-and-on throughout 2010. It's the used fifth-wheel trailer we bought last year (took delivery on my birthday, so it has been two presents in one). It has allowed me and my family to get out to places near and far year-round and relax while also enjoying the sights and scenes around us. We didn't quite make a trip every month this year, but we came pretty close and will have something to shoot for in 2011.
The fifth gift I have received this year is my growing list of friends on Facebook. It has been great to connect with people from my past and stay in touch with people who have been a part of my life. It has also helped me to reconnect with my family, which has been a wonderful thing.
The final gift I have enjoyed this year and for 17 previous Christmases is the love and support of my extremely patient wife, Teresa. She has stood by me and walked with me as I have slowly tried to rid myself of baggage from my past and tried to learn to embrace the possibilities of the present and future. I'm not there yet, but it isn't for lack of support and encouragement.
It isn't quite enough gifts to fill the 12 days of Christmas, but it's a pretty nice haul just the same. I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas, filled with joy and laughter and, most of all, with love. Merry Christmas!