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It’s the month when we celebrate Christmas!

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Oh, sorry!  No, that’s what stores have wanted us to believe since the week before Halloween.

This is the month when traditionally we reflect on the blessings and good things that have come our way.  Who am I to buck tradition?  Besides, countless studies — along with just plain sage wisdom and basic common sense — tells us that if you concentrate on the good, you’ll tend to be happier and just a more pleasant person all around.
I certainly have observed the opposite, which only proves the point. Haven’t you ever noticed that you tend to gravitate away from people who constantly bitch?  I know I sure do!  Those people who revel in righteous indignation about every social ill in the world, from their neighbor’s dog to the latest political boondoggle (that the other party is obviously responsible for), are simply the type of person that I prefer to keep at 10-foot-pole (or greater) length.

As for me, a few of the things I’m thankful for:cancer_free_ninjaI’m cancer-free:
While going through that gauntlet was no picnic, I am now what society calls a ‘survivor.’  Though it is essentially correct, I still don’t feel quite comfortable with that epithet.  However, I think the whole year-long ordeal has instilled in me a perspective that tends to focus me on the good in what time left I have in this mortal coil.

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My long history of working in fields that I love:
Bell Labs was a hoot!  Drop me into an environment where daily tasks exercise my physics, math, computer and engineering muscles?  Like a pig in swill!
Now that I’m pursuing a vocation in writing, despite the fact I am not successful by society’s measure?  Just as happy!  Don’t get me wrong — there is drudgery in both fields.  But when you love what you do, it just doesn’t matter. And the high points are incredible.  I cannot be thankful enough for that.

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Family & Friends:
I have seen some dysfunctional families that would put soap operas to shame.  I am ever so thankful that my family has none of those less-than-endearing scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs qualities.  And as for friends, I have a circle of friends that I have kept close for almost four decades.  And these are the friends that I can depend upon in life-or-death situations — because we’ve already gone through it.
In my salad days, I was enamored of the saying attributed to Tom Waits:
 Champagne for my real friends,
 Real pain for my sham friends.
But I think I prefer this one over it now:
 Friends help you.
 Good friends help you move.
 True friends help you move bodies.

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My furry companions:
Those of you who know me, are familiar with NixNutz*, a dog I had adopted from a local shelter. Cute as a button, he only had three legs, due to a nasty run-in with a pack of street dogs when he was abandoned in Bethlehem. Though we know it is simply the nature of animals not to complain, since they have no conception of self-pity, NixNutz’s example of “deal with it and get on with life” was nevertheless a daily inspiration for me. He left us last July, and I still miss him terribly. Not to worry — a new rescue is in the works!

Believe me, I could go on and on about my faith and the miracles — daily ones, simple ones, and even a few grandiose ones — that I’ve experienced. But I have to get back to the work that I love!

* NixNutz – a Pennsylvania Dutch term, literally translated as ‘of no use’, it is a term of endearment used by parents when their children misbehave.  A word my Dad often used for me!

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