Merry Christmas

Today, an unnamed city employee stopped by my office and pointed to some pictures of my wife while asking the question, how did someone as pretty as my wife end up with someone like me?  It’s nice to be held in such high esteem by my colleagues at City Hall.  I responded to the question by noting that I haven’t always looked like a 62-year-old city manager and my wife likes my personality.  Considering that we are about to celebrate our 43rd Christmas together, we obviously found something attractive in each other.

Our first Christmas we set a limit of three dollars on gifts for each other, which my wife completely disregarded by buying me a nice sweater.  I, of course, honored the bargain by purchasing a candle in the shape of a turtle.  It sounds pathetic even now, but I learned an important lesson from the experience.  Never attempt to be frugal when buying gifts for your wife.  I have also learned that I usually forget the gifts I receive from year to year, while never forgetting the person who was kind enough to remember me.

Evelyn and I have celebrated the holidays in many different places with many people over the years.  We have lost people we loved while gaining many new ones as our family and circle of friends have grown.  I received an early Christmas present this week when I arrived home from work to find three of my grandchildren running down the hall to give me a hug while shouting, “Papa.”  It’s been a long time since my children would give me a similar greeting, and I had almost forgotten how good it feels.

Experiences, it seems, are really the best gifts and what we both anticipate and remember most.  Right now, I’m looking forward to traveling to Gateway for Christmas and spending some time with my wife’s parents.  The Gateway Valley is a beautiful place and has been a family gathering spot throughout our marriage.  We hope to have a few grandchildren join us during the course of our stay.  I’m sure I will remember this experience far longer than anything else I might receive.

I hope everyone who takes a moment to read this column has a memorable, peaceful Christmas.  I am most grateful for the blessing of my wife and family, and I’ve even learned to appreciate the occasional barbs from friends at City Hall.