Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Be Careful Out There

Christmas is just a few short days away, and I want to wish safe travels to those of you out there criss-crossing the country trying to get home in time for the holidays, and especially to those good folks braving winter weather while delivering good cheer to others.

Even though it's natural to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, slow down and take a moment to think about the things that are most important--friends, family, good health, freedom, love, faith, and home--and give thanks.

Not to be ghoulish or throw a wet blanket on this season of good cheer, but consider that in a brief moment the things that we sometimes take for granted can be lost forever. I remember several years ago reading about a terrible tragedy that befell a young family on Christmas Eve, and every year that memory creeps back into my consciousness and my heart goes out to them wherever they may be, thinking that although Christmas should be a time of joy, for some people it may bring memories too painful to fathom. Twenty families in south Florida are experiencing that very situation this week.

Pretty much everyone I know lives a very fortunate life where the daily problems we face aren't really that insurmountable in the grand scheme of things. Life is pretty darn good, and we're all in the position of celebrating Christmas in a manner that 99% of the rest of the world's population would think to be extravagantly wealthy. We don't want for food, clothing, or shelter, and nobody in my family has passed away due to anything besides old age in the past thirty-plus years.

All of these thoughts of how fortunate we are were brought close to home for my family this past weekend, as my sister and her husband were victims of a terrible fire in their home--their garage exploded like Lefty Rosenthal's Buick in the parking lot at Marie Callendar's. I don't know all of the details, but it destroyed two cars and rendered their home unlivable for the next several months. Luckily everyone got out in time and nobody was injured, and the fire department managed to save the rest of the house, but now they're living in a hotel for the foreseeable future.

This Christmas will be a little tougher on them than most, but on a positive note everything was fully insured and will be replaced. Hurricane Wilma hitting their area a few months ago is now considered a blessing in disguise, because they took pictures of everything in the house and copied it to cd for the insurance company before they evacuated. No damage came from the hurricane, but having that cd in the safe cuts down on some of the major headaches they're facing now.

I can't imagine the stress this must put on them, but everyone is alive and well, their friends and neighbors have stepped up to help in a myriad of ways, and they will still have a very Merry Christmas--their plans for ten days in the Caribbean starting on Saturday haven't been affected. It could have been much worse.

Stuff can always be replaced, but family and friends are priceless. Raise a toast to the truly important things and remember to be careful out there this week.


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