Just be glad for what we have

In what is supposed to be a season of love and togetherness, Christmas in the 21st century has become its own unique battleground.
On one side of the front lines, you have the segment of the population that obsesses with picking out the perfect gift, throwing the most lavish dinner, and generally getting caught up in the materialistic portion of the holiday season.
On the other, you have those who are trying to spread the message of peace and goodwill ahead of Playstations and Gucci bags.
Now, I’ll be the first one to say that opening presents Christmas Day still is a pretty big kick for me. But I can’t help but think, especially at this time of year, about those whose are just trying to find health and happiness instead of the best last-minute bargain.
It’s easy for us to gripe about what we didn’t get on Christmas Day, like the latest high-end stereo equipment or the newest style in athletic shoes. But those concerns might be made less vexing when thinking about the gifts we still do have.
We should be glad for the gift of good health, in a year when SARS and now a ’flu epidemic have had a staggering impact on our society.
We should be glad to have the gift of family, in a time when so many children hope for any family to love them while being just another statistic on an adoption waiting list.
We should be glad for the gift of a decent home, when so many wander the streets both here and abroad with no protection from nature’s elements—and who are just afterthoughts to the majority of us.
Above all else, in a year when war in Afghanistan and Iraq has ruled the headlines, we should be glad for the gift of living in a country where we don’t have to peek around every corner for snipers and don’t have to look to the skies in fear for the potential of bombs raining down on our heads.
Technically, I won’t be home for Christmas this year as I had my opportunity to return to Edmonton for last year’s festive season and now must allow for my fellow reporters to travel to their far-off homes this time around.
But if you’re not where you are, you’re no place. So I’ll be glad to call Fort Frances home this Christmas, and share the gifts of friendship and kindness with various good people in the area.
To quote from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” you have to remember maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.
It’s about the feeling you get from being at a candlelight Christmas Eve service. It’s about sitting down with your kids and watching a favourite old-time Christmas special on T.V.
It’s about the tingly feeling you get when you hear carollers in the streets, or your favourite Christmas song in the stores or on the radio (for me, it’s a toss-up between “Silent Night” by Stevie Nicks or “Snoopy’s Christmas” by the Royal Guardsmen. Hey, Christmas is for the kid in all of us—and don’t tell me you’ve never sung along before because you know you have).
Most of all, it’s about a pretty special night just over 2,000 years ago when this world changed forever.
So, before you fret too much about gift returns and hitting the Boxing Day sales to make up for what you didn’t get at Christmas, look around you and think about the good things you do have.
Merry Christmas, everybody. May the holiday season bring its own magic to each of you.
• • •
Maybe I’ll get better at this name game in the New Year.
Last week’s front page of the Times sports section was graced by some ambitious young curling prodigies. One of them happened to be Savannah Hyatt, whom I mistakenly referred to as Samantha.
Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Hyatt. I hope the digital prints make up for my error.
As well, I mentioned in my column last week that there were five Fort Frances natives on the roster of the Kenora Stars Midget ‘AAA’ hockey squad which will challenge for the Air Canada Cup national Midget championship in Kenora this April.
Add one more to that list. Jamie Davis, who started the year with the Stars before leaving the team, is now back with Kenora for a possible run at the grandest prize in Canadian Midget hockey.
Local fans will get their chance to see the hometown boys in action when the Stars come to the Ice for Kids Arena next Tuesday (Dec. 30) at 7 p.m. for an exhibition game against the Thunder Bay Midget Kings.
• • •
It should be an intriguing pair of battles between the old and the new when this year’s editions of the Muskie senior boys’ and girls’ basketball teams play against their respective alumni teams next week at Fort Frances High School.
The boys will take on their predecessors Monday (Dec. 29) at noon while the girls face a similar challenge against the former female hoop stars from here next Tuesday (Dec. 30), also at noon.
• • •
Even though I showed no loyalty to them in my pre-season predictions, my beloved Dallas Cowboys forgave my oversight and qualified for the NFL playoffs for the first time in four years with a 19-3 win over the New York Giants on Sunday at Texas Stadium.
Talk about an early Christmas present. Somewhere in the big football stadium in the sky, Cowboys’ legendary coach Tom Landry is smiling a smile as big as the Lone Star State.

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