Christmas Eve

I want to give thanks. If you read my last post you know this has not been the best of times for me. I am not actually writing this on Christmas Eve so things may have changed by the time this gets posted, but my gratitude will not have changed. As I write this I am still evacuated from my home, but the fires seem to be under more control and the prospects of returning to my home have improved. It's been a day-at-a-time, moment-to-moment time for residents, firefighters and support staff. Not to mention friends and family.

As I mentioned in my last post, my wife and I went to bed last Saturday night having seen a newscast of flames at the local park where we walk our dog. At that point we turned off the news and spent the night tossing, turning and saying goodbye to all we had left behind. With one exception. My mother always said they can’t take away your memories. And Saturday night as we went to sleep that alone is what we might have retained.

The night I inventoried various associations I had with our home and the things and people who have been in it. I felt a bit like Scrooge visiting Christmas past. I had images of our wedding, a dance in the kitchen and a laugh shared. I saw the first painting I ever bought that hangs in the living room, the hippopotamus I had kept from my mother’s collection and the name plate that my dad had on his desk. I was not sad thinking of these things. I was, indeed, grateful to have them in my memory. I was glad they continued to be a part of my life.

One thing I have learned is that unless you are physically next to a person (or thing) you basically are carrying them with you. While it is comforting to know you can be with your friends, I've found that even though my parents and sister are no longer alive I still spend time with them. Not as much, maybe not as joyful, but certainly as profound. I still have conversations with them and let them know when I think they would be touched by something or I am reminded of them. My love has not left me. I still hold on to and value our connection and am thankful for their ongoing presence in my life. While life is lived in the moment, I do find I have memories that I can bring to the moment.

While I know the value of appreciation, I have neglected to take time to be thankful for people who sacrifice for others. These last few weeks have reminded me how important it is to have a community of caring people. This is a festive time of year and thousands of people have left their homes and come to help us out. As we all have learned, crisis bring people together as we re-focus on what is truly important in life. Family and friends usually top everyone’s list of what really matters and they do mine, but this year I am much more aware of how grateful I am to the many people I will most likely never know who have given of themselves. Thank you is not a sufficient way to show appreciation. My experience is that these people while they appreciate the thanks they receive give of themselves because they know the value of giving and helping. That said, I would be remiss if I did not say another thank you and re-new my own contributions to the welfare of others.


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