With the Christmas season now upon us and in full swing, we’re all asking each other “what do you want for Christmas?”  Let’s see – clothes, some books, an iPad?  Maybe a watch or some jewelry?  However, for me, this Christmas and holiday season feels differently.   I feel blessed every day that I wake up and go to work – just grateful to be alive and knowing how fortunate I am compared to those who aren’t as lucky as myself.

It was this time last year that I learned of the regrowth of my tumor and I prepared for yet another surgery.  This year, I am in good health, happy and grateful to be here enjoying life.  Sure, I am in stores shopping and watching as the rest of society furiously runs into stores hunting for that one special gift or the best bargain they can find.  But shouldn’t we all take a minute and remember what the “true” meaning of the holiday is?  I think so.  As Linus said to Charlie Brown:CharlieBrownChristmas

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.  That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”  

I can relate to good ole’ Charlie Brown.  As I have gotten older and with all that I have gone through, I can appreciate the true meaning of the holiday.  Yesterday, Ashley and I went to see “A Wonderful Life” at the Goodspeed Opera House.  You know the story…a man down on his luck financially contemplates suicide until an angel shows him the value of his simple, yet fulfilling life.

It’s a relatable tale, as each of us I’m sure can remember a time when we felt a little desperate, like George Bailey.  While the beginning of this year was difficult with undergoing surgery, and then with the lives of two young fellow brain tumor patients taken too soon, I’ve been trying to take in every moment of this holiday season.  I live a quiet, fairly simple life…but walking around a beautiful quaint town with my wife on an unseasonably warm December day, going to see a show and enjoying a phenomenal dinner made me feel so grateful for this life.  The little things most certainly are the big things, and it almost feels doubly so at the holidays.

No matter how overwhelming and dark life can seem at times, there is good all around us.  Sometimes it takes an angel to drive that point home.  I have a couple new angels this year.  I hope that somewhere in the distance I will hear the faint ringing of a bell and that those angels are gaining their wings, because they’ve most certainly left their impact.  As Leonard Cohen sang: “Hallelujah, Hallelujah.”

So while I don’t expect anyone to stop running around the mall to find that perfect gift, not even myself, I ask that you just take a few moments during your holiday season to count all of your blessings, no matter how big or small.