-- by Mike Murray
It had already been a wonderful Christmas. That which I desired -- the only thing that I desired -- I received. It wasn't purchased from a store. Neither was it manufactured by St. Nick (or his erstwhile elves). I had a wish, one which no mere mortal had the power to grant. But granted, it was.
I would have gladly accepted this gift -- were it the only one I received -- and considered myself fortunate. It would have seen me through a good many of life's routine aggravations during the ensuing months. Having received such a gift (and having received it well before December 25th), I coveted nothing more for Christmas.
But such were the bounties this year that other presents followed, and enriched an already blessed season. Some of the extra gifts did come from stores. Some did not. But all were thoughtfully selected; and all were thoroughly appreciated.
For me, it was a holiday both glorious and grand. And it was considerably more than I deserved.
It was almost an embarrassment of riches -- given the plight of those who have so very little to celebrate. Loneliness, economic hardship, and illness (among other things) visit countless lives. Awareness of their suffering tempers my enjoyment when things are going well for me.
And it cautions me, during my darkest hours, not to feel as though life is cheating me. For, if such were the case, it would be cheating millions (billions?) to much greater degrees. "Fairness" is not a factor. Life simply doesn't work that way.
Fortune too often smiles upon scoundrels (and just as often sneers at saints) for me to accept that there is -- during our earthly existences, at least -- any system of reward and punishment at work. Good things sometimes happen to bad people. And bad things, far too frequently, happen to good ones.
So when things are going my way (most especially when a fervent prayer is answered) I try to graciously accept the benevolence. And to humbly acknowledge that I probably did little – if anything – to merit such charitable intercession. During this Christmas season, I am thusly chastened.
It has been a marvelous time. Not perfect, to be sure. (Perfection can never be achieved when there exists even one "empty chair" in a home.) But, certainly, a long, long way from awful. One of the few things that this season did lack was a blanket of snow. The rainy weather in northeast Ohio made for a climatically dreary Christmas morning.
And then – a few days later – winter came. A brief stay in a log cabin, nestled in the woods. Wife reading contentedly in the corner. Dog sleeping serenely on her pillow. And, through the window: large white flakes, gently falling. Snow. Wonderful, peaceful snow.
I know that moments like these won’t last. But I will cherish them, while they do.
Copyright © 2010 Michael F. Murray -- All rights reserved.