A Gaudy Display of Christmas Cheer!

We have a cherry tree in our front yard that’s about 15 feet high and each year we decorate it with very large & colorful Christmas balls. ​​ After- Christmas sales always yield good buys on more of them,​​ and currently we are up to around 150. ​​ This is a gaudy display​​ of Christmas​​ cheer and is done solely for the benefit of people to enjoy. ​​ It takes me two days to complete that task. ​​ A lady drove up and stopped in front of our yard the other day and just sat there, looking at that darn tree. ​​ I have perfected a way to get some of those balls all the way to the top branches,​​ and I think that is what amazes most people, especially kids. ​​ A few years​​ ago,​​ a​​ youthful​​ 9-​​ year-old girl, seriously ill with cancer, had her grandmother always drive by our house so she could see that tree, decorated in all its Christmas splendor. ​​ Sadly, that young girl passed away a while back, but we continue to decorate it, hoping it will bring​​ cheer to someone who might be in need of it. ​​ I have included a picture for you to see. ​​ I hope it brings a smile to your face also. ​​ 

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ I went over to visit my sister-in-law Patty (my brother’s wife) a few days ago,​​ and it was a wonderful reunion. ​​ I took with me,​​ another sister-in-law (Mary) and the chatter was non-stop and fun. ​​ Both have their health challenges,​​ but they refused to let that dampen their​​ enthusiasm. ​​ As we get older,​​ these get-togethers​​ seem​​ to be more​​ meaningful because​​ we never know when they will stop. ​​ I can easily remember my last visit with my brother in November of 2008 (he passed away​​ a month later). ​​ As a matter of fact, I recently watched a video I made of him in June of that year about his life. ​​ It was fun to watch him struggle to answer some of the question I asked. ​​ He was always smart,​​ but he struggled mightily with the question: “What are some of the things you did in your life you wished you hadn’t?” ​​ With his wife sitting across from him, he wasn’t about to answer. ​​ I should​​ have​​ known better, but that was just me being playful with my brother. ​​ He finally answered, “Nothing.​​ ​​ I’ve never done anything that I’m sorry for.”  ​​ ​​​​ I saw the​​ twinkle in his eyes and knew not to pursue the subject any further.  ​​​​ Jerry passed away 9 years ago this month,​​ and I still miss him. ​​ 

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ A few weeks ago,​​ I bought a spanking-new cellphone. ​​ It has all the bell’s & whistles that any modern cell phone has plus a few extra. ​​ I was so excited that as I left the local Verizon store and was waiting at the stoplight of a major intersection, I decided to take a look at it. ​​ I fully expected to be there at that particular light for a least 5 minutes, so there​​ I​​ sit, absorbed in my new toy, when I hear the car horn directly behind me. ​​ I look up,​​ and the light is green but quickly turns red. ​​ I get ready to open my door and go back and apologize to the lady,​​ but she jerks the steering wheel, goes into the lane on my right, stops briefly at the light and then speeds down the road, making a hasty getaway! ​​ The guilt I felt was overwhelming. ​​ The reason for that guilt is that I often​​ criticize​​ young people for fiddling with their gadgets and not paying attention to what’s going on around them. ​​ I wish​​ she had tapped on her horn earlier,​​ but I guess she was trying to be polite. ​​ Her patience gave out,​​ and she needed​​ to demonstrate her frustration and succeeded. ​​ I made a silent promise to her as she sped away that I would​​ never do that again. ​​ I fully intend to keep that pledge. ​​ Andre’ Gide said it so well; “Giving yourself your word to do something ought to be no less sacred than giving your word to others.” ​​ 

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ "Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." – Voltaire

I ran across that quote the other day and sat down quickly to give it some thought. ​​ I tend to do that often these days as I get older. ​​ To see, or do something many times and not clearly understand the real meaning is something​​ I​​ do​​ sometimes. ​​ I would be at a loss to tell you how​​ much​​ I’ve used the word “appreciate” with​​ the explicit meaning of being thankful for whatever the other person did for me or someone else. ​​ Then Voltaire has the insight to explain exactly what “appreciation” is: ​​ It makes what’s excellent in others belong to us as well. ​​ What a wonderful concept. ​​ 

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ My wife and I went to a Christmas Party given by a company that helps us decide​​ what investments to make and guides us through​​ the maze that is the USA financial system. ​​ There was a lot of delicious​​ food,​​ but the employees made the desserts (their spouse wasn’t allowed to help). ​​ The guests​​ were asked to cast a ballot to determine which dessert was best, and the winner got to wear a crown for the remainder of the evening with bragging rights until Christmas. ​​ What was really unique​​ in​​ this situation was I​​ needed to make​​ several trips to the dessert table​​ in order to narrow the selection down to three and then eventually pick the winner. ​​ I’m thinking this is the first time I have ever made that many trips to a sugar-laden oasis without experiencing a gluttony of guilt. ​​ However,​​ I knew that I needed to keep my focus on picking the winner,​​ and I succeeded. ​​ I just gotta remember not to weigh myself for a month. ​​ Oprah Winfrey said: ​​ "I trust that everything happens for a reason, even when we're not wise enough to see it." ​​ I’m​​ running with that explanation.

 ​​ ​​​​ I hope this missive finds your world spinning as fast as mine and that, like me, you’re enjoying every minute.

 ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ …….Tommy

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