Every year at Christmastime we write letters to Santa, but this year I thought I'd do something different. Since we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus, I decided to address my letter to Him. Some of you atheists, agnostics, and willful non-believers might want to skip this column and go directly to the sports page.
Dear Baby Jesus,
I have no gold, frankincense, or myrrh to give you; only a grateful heart and a promise to be the best old grandpa that I can. I know my gift is imperfect in many ways. Sometimes I forget to be thankful, and there are always things I could do to be a better grandpa, father, husband, brother, and friend. But I'll keep trying to do my best in the hope that someday you might find my efforts a worthy gift.
I want to thank you for all you have done for me. I especially appreciate the peace and joy you have brought into my life. I lived a long time in the shadow of doubt and it was a wonderful thing to find the light of your glorious promise. When I was cold and lonely you welcomed me into the warmth of your presence. I will never forget how wonderful it made me feel that first time I was close to you when I needed a friend. Thank you for being patient with me and allowing me to make that discovery on my own.
Thank you for watching over me when I needed the shelter of an angel's wings to protect me and keep me safe. You were with me in Vietnam, on those slick winter highways, and during those long dark nights in the coal mine. I didn't always feel your presence, but looking back I can see the imprint of your tender mercy on my life.
Thank you for the gift of a wonderful wife. We've been together for many years now and we still walk through life hand in hand like a couple of children lost in the forest. Life is full of trouble, sorrows and heartbreak. It's nice to have a helping hand to hold onto and a shoulder to lean on. I'm grateful for her influence, her love and her help.
Thank you for my four handsome sons. Raising them from babies has taught me what life is all about. They are all good men and I'm proud of them. I'm sorry that I didn't do some things better as a father, but recognizing those mistakes has made me less critical of my own parents and grandparents. Life is about learning and sometimes we learn best from our mistakes. Thank goodness for grandchildren. My grandchildren have given me a second chance to be more loving, tolerant, and involved with more loving, tolerant, and involved with little kids, and I'm trying hard to make up for what I missed. But maybe I'm just an old man now with more time and compassion than I had when I was young.
And thank you, baby Jesus, for those beautiful grandchildren. They remind me of the magic of life. In those bright eyes I find the wonder of Santa Claus, the charming truth of the Tooth Fairy, and the hopeful search for monsters under the bed. And I marvel at the perfect faith in God of little children. In their prayers I find hope for the future and the satisfaction that the little ones are off to a good moral start in life.
Thank you for this big wonderful world we live in. I love the red rock desert, the forested mountains and the amber fields of grain. I love to see your signature in the sunrise and the glory of your presence in the fire of a desert sunset. I marvel at the night sky in all of her diamond-dusted splendor. And who but you would have thought to give us a moon, that bright frosted face of night that lights our way so we are never in total darkness.
And thank you, baby Jesus, for your life and your good example. I know it must pain you to see the awful state of things here in our world today. I'll try hard not to disappoint you after all you did for me.
With love and gratitude,
Your friend, Tom
P.S. Please say hello to mom for me.