Even so, as I reflect on the year that is about to pass, I give thanks for a few simple things. All my immediate family made it through the year in one piece, as did most of our extended family. With one exception, most of our family and the important people in our lives are healthy. None of our close friends or family suffered health or financial calamities.
I realize these are all low bars, and yet they aren't. I was reminded of that a few days ago, when I was having a few medical tests run (nothing serious -- it just kind of sucks getting old, though that's way better than the only other alternative). After checking in, a nurse took me to an examination room, and left the door ajar. As I was sitting there waiting for the doctor to come in, I overheard a conversation between two of the nurses. One told the other that she was feeling emotional and had seen three patients that day who had almost made her cry. She said the last had been an old woman who was in bad health and was there to have some x-rays taken after a fall. The old woman had told the nurse that she hoped she would die before the holidays were over and, in fact, really hoped she would pass that night. She said that she was 89 years old, in chronic pain, and didn't have friends or family to take care of her. In fact, she didn't even have anyone to take her home after her tests. As I listened, I had a hard time holding back my own tears, and the conversation stuck with me as I left, and is obviously still on my mind several days later.
So, as we all run around buying those last minute gifts, let's all think a little about what a blessing it is to have people in our lives to buy those gifts for. And, maybe do something nice for a stranger who may not be as lucky. I remember last year around this time I pulled up to the drive-through window at Starbucks and started to pay for my coffee, only to be told that the woman in the car ahead of me had already paid for it. I'm going to spend the next few days looking for opportunities to do little things like that.
We are going to be taking a vacation until after the New Year, and my current plan is not to post during that period, though I could get bored and change my mind. In the meantime, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.