If you went back and thought about it, what is the greatest gift you have ever received during the holiday season?  I can remember getting some pretty cool Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars when I was a kid, and remember getting a sweet indoor golf game when I started taking up the game.  I also remember getting tickets to a Milwaukee Bucks basketball game when I was young, meaning that I got to see my all-time favorite athlete, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, play basketball against the Kansas City-Omaha Kings (raise your hands if you remember the Kansas City-Omaha Kings).  Since being married, my wife has always had the knack to give me something unexpected that has brought me great joy so this time of the year is always great to look forward to.  I cannot lie, I like stuff.  However, every year I am working to focus on the gifts that really matter.

This past weekend, I got to go back thirty years to a time when I was a high school counselor and assistant basketball coach.  I returned to a former school to celebrate a basketball team that accomplished great things during the 1991-1992 season.  I was honored to be asked to speak to the current team before the game.  I told the team that while winning is fun, what they will remember thirty years later are the relationships they have with their teammates and coaches.  That is what those of us who did great things thirty years ago talked about and enjoyed as we reflected back on our accomplishments, our personal bonds with one another.  Most of my former players are flourishing in life, while some have struggled.  But, we are still all here for one another after thirty years.  

Just prior to going to this celebration, my wife and I visited my mom.  About this time last year, my mom suffered a stroke while also being in the throes of moderate dementia.  My dad also died six years ago, so these are not easy times for her.  She has no real choice but to live in a nursing home, something she never wanted.  But despite all this, she still smiles and maintains a positive attitude.  We gave my mom a Christmas present, and my wife playfully took the bow off the package and placed it on my mom.  That is what I call a real gift, a wonderful mom who is the best gift her four kids could ask for.

The weekend concluded with being able to see our awesome students perform at the annual Winter Concert.  The depth and breadth of their talent is unbelievable, and they perform with such passion and sense of fun.  It is a yearly tradition that the choir ends its performance with all choir groups coming together to sing, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”  This is an incredibly moving experience each year, and it always takes me emotionally to a place where I try to focus on what really matters in life.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and winter break.  I hope you get that gift that you really want, and that more importantly you remember that you are a wonderful gift to others.  I hope you experience peace and happiness during this holiday season, and all through the year.  

Dr. B.