Christmas was always an exciting time when I was a boy. Like most American children I anxiously waited, sometimes unable to sleep, sometimes up at 4 a.m. on Christmas morning to see what "Santa" had dropped off.
In 1966 and 1967 I spent Christmas at sea in the U.S. Navy, the first time I was not at home. It was a sad and lonely time filled with feelings of emptiness.
Later when I worked for two California police departments, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day often meant going to work, which also had a feeling of emptiness and being away from those you loved.
As a reporter, I often volunteered to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (Thanksgiving, too) so younger folks with families could stay home. (OK, the triple-time pay was a magnet as well).
The holiday murders and mayhem have a tendency to take the edge off the holiday however. (One Christmas Eve in Flint I covered a murder-suicide, a homicide and the next day another homicide).
So now that I am semi-retired and able to have these special days off, I truly appreciate them. It will be a quiet Christmas Day, just Joan and I, but we have some special visitors (John, Nicole and the two grandchildren, Addisen and newcomer Griffen) coming this afternoon for Christmas Eve dinner.
We miss our two sons, William and Timothy in California, and daughter, Elin, who is working in Boston. Granddaughter Brittany in California will also be missed. We will see our California children and grandchild in February, but we miss them all at this special time of year.
Our thoughts are also with those we lost this year, my brother, Mike, and Joan's Dad, Red. As much as holidays are a special happy time, they can be sad reminders of those not still with us.
My thoughts also turn to those standing the wall, those in the military, those serving in police deparments and fire departments who will be on watch for the rest of us on this special day. We thank those serving in ambulance companies and in hospitals, as well.
I hope you will stop for a moment and be grateful for their service to us and to our country. I know I already have. It's lonely on Christmas in a far off place and the least we can all do is stop and give them a thought.
For those on watch in patrol cars or in fire houses we also extend our thanks for their sacrifices.
As to the blog, I have a series of special YouTube videos on auto pilot going up tonight, but I encourage you to spend your time with family and friends and not here.