After I receive long-anticipated Christmas greetings, I’m often somewhat dismayed when I consider what some have done over the year…and compare it to what I have not done.
I’ve written before about my niece’s daughter, Melissa. Since her husband has returned from Iraq with so many ailments, she has devoted herself to him, and others in the same boat. If you want to know more, go to www.war-relatedillnessandinjury.blogspot.com. It’s enlightening, and heartbreaking.
I’ve also written about my cousin, Santa Bob. He devotes so much of his time, at Christmas and otherwise, to make life a little brighter for children. I think he just “fell into it,” because of his beard. But his personality and his empathy for people are what make him unique.
My old college chum, Jean, has faced several challenges recently. In spite of a stroke and several cracked ribs from falls over the past couple of years, she’s determined to make a difference. She works with the homeless in Rapid City, she heads up her church’s mission programs for reservations, and she and her husband have taken on a Native American family as their “extended family.”
My ex-husband’s nephew and wife have been devoting themselves to the homeless in various locations. They went to Uganda for five weeks in September. Les has been doing this for several years, and this year, Vickie joined him. They worked in clinics, with the poorest of the poor, and are looking forward to doing it again next year.
My dear friend Jim had a museum named after him at the School of Mines. He presented a paper in NYC at the Explorers Club this year. He’s presented papers at the World Geographic Society. He still keeps exploring and writing, and lending his expertise to the field of paleontology. He’s been to Antarctica; he’s discovered so many “dead critters” over the years. I’m in awe, and so grateful he stays in contact with me, and we are friends. In fact, when we talk, he’s still the “old Jim,” who is funny and who has never played by anyone else’s rules.
Even my daughter’s old playmate, Chris, went to Italy to “meditate.” As a kid, Chris would be top of the “people never to meditate” list.
Every Christmas, I’m humbled by the things the people I love do.
Of course I receive letters that aren’t quite so lofty, and I love to hear from those people, too. I want to hear what’s gone on with them, as they keep on just as I have…going day by day and not taking “giant steps” in one way or another.
Most of the people mentioned grew up in South Dakota or Minnesota in unimpressive circumstances, except perhaps Les, who traveled a lot because his dad was in the Air Force. But some power was there, to make them scientists, humanitarians, seekers. They strive to make a difference, with not much gain for themselves.
Jean and I are still talking about going to Ireland. I’m all for it. It’s the challenge, and the willingness to take it on, whatever “it” may be.
I may not slay many dragons, but I love to hear about it when other people do, especially people who mean the world to me. They take the chances, the leaps of faith, and the determination to make life matter, as is best for them. I’m so privileged to know them. Their letters keep me focused…and remind me there is still much to explore.
Thank God for Christmas cards.
Hats off to those who strive to make life better