Two thousand twenty years ago, more or less, God sent His only begotten son to save the world. When He lit the Star of Bethlehem to mark the spot, it was Showtime...

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I hope you had a merry Christmas. Most of all I hope you remember the reason for the season, as outlined in this column's opening paragraph.

Christmas is often defined -- rightly or wrongly -- in terms of gifts.

If you have any of the following, blessed are you, for you have bedrock gifts on which to build a good life, and which enhance the quality of your life 24/7.

--A quality family: Whether it's the one you were born into, or one you married into, or one you created through marriage, a good family is one of the most solid platforms on which you can build your life. Your family is your life support system, a blessing to you when the sun shines, a shelter from life's storms, and a survival tool when life brings the whip down across your naked back.

--Your home: Home is where you can be yourself, let your hair down, belch if you're a man, pad around the house without keeping your face on straight if you're a woman. Home's the cave you come back to lick your wounds when the bear got you, instead of the other way around. If you've got a good home, you are blessed. Remember there are people without homes, children of a lesser God, who ate out of dumpsters and slept over heating vents in this country on Christmas Day, as well as every other day of the year. There are wretched souls in some counties who come to dumpsters not to put things in, but to take things out. I know this, because I have seen it.

--Friends: The best families are made up of your friends. Beyond the family, view friends as an extension of your family. You can talk with them and they understand. Like your family, they share your joy when things go right, and lighten your load by sharing your pain when things go bad south on you.

--A good job: Most of us define ourselves through our work. It helps make us what we are. If you have a job you enjoy – or any job in these tough economic times -- and you can in some way make the world better for doing your job, you are indeed fortunate. A job you enjoy at a modest rate of pay is better than a big paycheck doing work you hate.

-- A good dog: A good dog is a pleasure to you every day of your life. It matters not if your dog is a blueblood, with a pedigree and papers tracking his or her lineage back to Plymouth Rock, or a Heinz 57 mutt; the offspring of strangers on a moonlit lawn who then went their separate ways forever. Your dog sees you off to work, and on your return gives you one of life's greatest pleasures, which is to lick your face and smear you with dog spit. Patting your dog, taking him or her for a walk, roughhousing with them and talking to them are all cheaper than psychiatric therapy and a whole lot more fun. Your dog loves you uncritically and completely no matter how bad a day you've had or what bone-headed stunt you may have pulled. There are times when this is a joy beyond measure.

--A reliable vehicle: You never realize how much you depend on your vehicle in daily life until you've had Ol' Paint shot out from under you. . For most people, their vehicle serves as a library, mobile clothes closet, office, and perhaps as a bed, armory, restaurant, or place to go through full hair, make-up and wardrobe. It doesn't matter if your vehicle is as up to date as five minutes ago, or older than some of your children. Be it a car, truck, motorcycle, ATV or Big Wheel, if it gets you there and back dependably, and you're comfortable in it, it covers a major base on life's base path.

--Your health: If you are blessed with a body that will do your bidding, and carry you through life's storms, you are fortunate indeed. If you have such a body, take care of it. Look after your exercise, rest and diet. If you smoke, quit. If you don't, don't start. Cigarettes are death in a box; smoking is suicide on the installment plan. Good health is easier and cheaper to keep than regain. Ask anyone who ever regained it. Or tried to.

--The state of your soul: If you have a religion, or some holy man or woman who can smear healing power medicine on your soul, help you understand life, answer your deepest questions, help you live with those questions for which there are no answers, help you change what you can, and accept what you can't, and help you to know the difference, you are blessed. It need not be the religion of your neighbors, or their minister. Seek what works for you. When you find it, invest daily work in it to keep it functional, just like you have to work at your job or your marriage to keep them running well.

There are other components to a quality life; these are but a few.

If you have these presents, realize how fortunate you are. Make it your New Year's Resolution to treasure them, and then keep them at all costs.

If you don't have these gifts, make it your New Year's Resolution to obtain every last one of them, and then do so at all costs. They will help you toward a better life than you thought imaginable.

And when you're happy, the world's a better place...

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