Hayes Carll has a Christmas song that I like called I'm Grateful For Christmas. It's kind of a tounge-in-cheek tribute to his family, talking about the joys of Christmas, regardless of how dysfunctional they may be. At least that's my take on it. Mr. Carll may have a vastly different one.
Regardless, I can say that I am also grateful for Christmas this year as well. This year has been a roller coaster, from dealing with Grace's diagnosis, to the death of Mary's grandmother, to the ever present hectic nature of the newspaper business. Actually, that makes it sound more like the Giant Slide at the state fair rather than a roller coaster, but I assure you there have been a fair share of ups to go along with the downs.
While INAD has robbed Grace of some of her abilities, it hasn't robbed her of her spirit, which is sparkling as ever. She never ceases to bring a smile to my face whenever I see her, even when the reality of her diagnosis seems too much to bear.
The support of our family is one of the biggest reasons for my gratitude and I'm looking forward to spending time with them this holiday season. Each one has been there for us during our times of joy and sorrow, as we would be for them.
I'm also grateful for my community. The way that people have stepped up to show their support for Grace financially has been overwhelming. While we recently made a donation to the INAD study at Washington University for $70,000 on behalf of all of those who have contributed, Mary figures that the amount donated in Grace's name is closer to $95,000 when all is said and done. And it continues to pour in, with another $2,000-plus brought in over the last few weeks.
What I'm truly grateful for though are the things that haven't cost a dime. The Lincolnwood volleyball team playing in THREE Volley for Grace games. Grace's name on the side of Lindsey Storm's shoe and the way she, Carly Cameron and Maddy Reck made it a point to come over and talk to my little girl. The trip to see the North Dakota State basketball team, who has adopted us into their "Bison Family" even though we are hundreds of miles away. The Lincolnwood High school soccer team coming to participate in the Grace Filled 5K, not a player... but the entire team. And many more examples than I have room to list.
Most of all I'm grateful for the coaches, players, fans and friends, who have asked how Grace was doing while I've been covering their respective teams. Talking about Grace's condition isn't always the most fun topic, but I always appreciate people's concern for my daughter and my family's well being.
We don't know what the future will bring, but this year has taught me that life is more important than a missed call on the basketball court or a typo in a story or if something doesn't go just the way I thought it would.
Like Mr. Carll says, "I'm grateful for Christmas this year," but not just for Christmas. I'm grateful for each and every day that I get to spend with my beautiful wife and daughter in this community that apparently loves us a lot. If that's not reason enough to be grateful, then I sure don't know what is.