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Thoughts on Christmas 2012…

Christmas – the holiday season – is a moody time. Experts attribute this to the ever-shrinking amount of daylight as we approach the winter solstice (the “winter blues”); the tension surrounding gatherings of extended family (“If Uncle Mike’s going to be there, then I won’t be”); the financial pressure of gift giving and receiving (“I’ve created my own personal fiscal cliff when those credit cards come due in January”). Whatever the reason, those six weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year can be tough. This week’s tragic and senseless shooting in Connecticut adds another layer of confusion, anger, and sorrow to the nation’s collective mood.


I’ve been thinking about this lately and yesterday a few things hit me right in the face, and I thought I’d share them with you. Today I woke up:

  • In a house where the furnace automatically turns on 30 minutes before I wake up, so the house is nice and warm when I drag my fanny out of bed; with indoor plumbing that dispenses on demand hot and cold water; with a closet full of clothes (even though I look like I wear the same thing almost every day); and a refrigerator full of food. These facts alone make me better off than the vast majority of people on the planet.
  • Next to a beautiful wife who looks better today than the day we met 34 years ago and who loves me in spite of my moods; and comforted in the knowledge that together we raised two sons who are not only self-sufficient, caring and compassionate members of the human race, but who also were lucky enough to find partners who add to our family’s blessings.
  • And went to work at an organization dedicated to helping its member societies get better at fulfilling their missions of securing families’ financial futures and improving the communities in which their members live and work; where I am surrounded by an incredibly dedicated staff who put the organization’s interest before their own and who understand, appreciate and respect a boss who loves chocolate as much as they do; and that provides me with the financial resources to support my family and help a few others along the way.
  • And relished the memories of being born into one of wackiest and most wonderful families in history that continually supplies me with enough stories to fill the gaps in any conversation.
  • Thankful for one more day of sobriety – heading towards 24 years now – on which all the good things in my life have been built and living proof that miracles can happen.

I consider myself a spiritual person, but not a religious one. I believe in a Creator, but one with a “hands off” management style. I’ll be honest with you, I have no idea why we’re here or where we go when our lives are over. I have nothing but respect and admiration for people – probably most of the folks who are reading this – who have the faith that they know these answers. I’m looking forward to finding them out – someday. But for now, I am content to say thank you for all the blessings that the Creator has graciously provided; especially for gift of free will to make decisions that determine the quality of our limited time on the planet. That blessing allows us all to give the most important gift of all: the willingness to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

CharlieBrownChristmas ending



13 Responses

  1. Thank you Joe for a year of thought-provoking information and your dedication to the fraternal system. The Officers, Board and Staff of the Natonal Slovak Society wish you, your family and your staff a very Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  2. Joe, merry Christmas and best wishes to you and your family.
    Sincerely, Bob Schleyer

  3. Charlie Brown Christmas – my favorite Christmas show! Merry Christmas Joe, Jody and everyone at the Alliance.

  4. Joe, Congrats on your great decisions 34 years ago, and 24 years ago! Merry Christmas.

  5. Thank you for the pleasant insight in a fine person’s life. Merry Christmas to all of you at American Fraternal Alliance. “There’s a little bit of Charlie Brown in all of us”!

  6. Thanks, Joe, and a very Merry Christmas and a Joyous Holiday to you and your family.

    Ells Stout

  7. Brother Joe, have a blessed and enjoyable Christmas with your family and friends and to all at the American Fraternal Alliance, Merry Christmas!

  8. Thanks, Joe, for an even more discerning and hopeful message than usual (and you have a high standard!). May the blessings of this season resonate with you and your family. All of us at Catholic United Financial wish all of you a Merry Christmas

  9. Thanks Joe! You have reminded us all to be thankful for the many blessings we have! Merry Christmas!!

  10. Merry Christmas Joe and to the family and to the American Fraternal Alliance family.
    Melvin and Mary Rausch – Iowa

  11. Keep up the excellent work for the Socieities; and you will certainly find out!

  12. Awesome Joe, great sentiment. Have a great Xmas from the other side of the pond

  13. Merry Christmas, Joe. May God continue to bless and prosper your family and the American Fraternal Alliance. We love and deeply appreciate all you do.

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