Count your blessings

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Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

I’ve read a lot lately about the divide between the rich and the poor. The habits of each. The divide that has always existed. And will always exist. The bible tells us they will always be with us. It also tells some of us to sell all of our possessions and give to the poor. Some of us. It tells us that’s its easier for a camel to pass through the eye of needle than for a  rich man to find entrance to Heaven. And it also tell us to care for widows and orphans. That’s hard to do without building wealth. So I don’t think “wealth” is wrong.

What I find most disappointing from the “rich” is detachment from reality coupled with the belief that they have authority to speak on the subject of self-improvement without irony. Their removal from the struggle that the “working class poor” experience. Understand, our family doesn’t fall into that category. By American standards we’re pretty firmly entrenched in the middle class. I don’t believe that’s because God is blessing us more than the poor though. Or because we’ve somehow been more diligent, read more books, and tried harder that we’ve stayed just barely ahead of the curve. I don’t believe we deserve the abundance we have.

I think you get what you work for in life. Effort counts.

But I also know there’s a certain matter of circumstance and luck that contribute to social and economic standing. That’s a tough pill in humility for the rich to swallow sometimes; that their place of birth, families social class, access to quality education, resources and luck played any role in their accumulation of worldly resources. It’s a grinning monster in the mirror full of toothy self congratulatory hubris. I’m a product of it. And many of the rich, if they turned off the lights would see those red eyes as well. And perhaps they would sleep with the lights on.

Since your birth we’ve been a single income family. Through happenstance, and perhaps some providence (a strange thought), we’ve encountered a few challenges through the years. Like everyone.  While you’ve been little Mommy and I have felt it more important for her to be home with you than for us to upgrade from vinyl to brick and from 2004 model vehicles to new. That’s not easy where we live.

We made that choice. Accepted the fact that it may be a struggle from time to time. And we get by. But the dogged belief that listening to more audio books about success (check), exercising more (I exercise plenty), eating a diet strictly from health food stores (we do as much as we can afford), or teaching you kids more about charity (I’ve fed the poor, put shoes on their feet, and prayed with them) would have changed anything is the chasm between theory and reality that bothers me.

“Don’t try to describe the ocean if you’ve never seen it.”

As I get older I find myself more sentimental about the Christmas season while also wondering how life works out for people. The journey our family has experienced together. The way mommy decorates our home. The smell of candles burning, cookies in the oven on a cold grey afternoon, and you three cuddled together on the couch under a blanket watching The Grinch. Family drives to look at lights. A trip to the movies and sharing a giant bucket of popcorn and two large Cokes.

We have way more than our share of everything we need. So I can’t presume to offer advice to the “poor” this season.

I realize my own flawed nature and greed to have and to keep.

What’s fair, what’s equal, and what’s blessing are three very different things. I’m grateful this season for my blessings.

Because those are all I can be sure of.

Life is not easy. It was never intended to be. That’s why I pull our family so close this time of year. Recognizing love when you have it, counting your blessings, being grateful, humility, and being compassionate are what matter to me.

God gave me his Son. He gave me a faithful wife who will grow old with me. He gave me three special gifts in you. I count my blessings every day and especially during the holidays.

I love you,


TRAINING: I’ve been taking a break lately, so no workouts since a short run last Thursday.