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 huge & colorful Christmas balls. After- Christmas sales always yield good buys on more of them, and currently, we are up to around 150. This is an elaborate 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 need 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 another sister-in-law (Mary) with me, and the chatter was non-stop and fun. Both have their health challenges, but they refuse to dampen their enthusiasm.
These get-togethers seem more meaningful as we never know when they will stop as we get older. I can easily remember my last visit with my brother in November of 2008 (he passed away in December). 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 my questions. He was always bright, 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 bells & 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. Still, 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 was successful. 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 sometimes do. I would be at a loss to tell you how much I’ve used the word “appreciate” with the explicit purpose of being thankful for whatever the other person did for me or someone else. Then Voltaire has the insight to explain precisely what “appreciation” is: It makes what’s excellent in others belong to us as well. What an excellent 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 USA financial system maze. 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. The winner got to wear a crown for the remainder of the evening with bragging rights until Christmas. What was unique in this situation was that I needed to make several trips to the dessert table to narrow the selection down to three and 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 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.

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