I Hope Everyone Has A Merry Christmas

By John J. Duncan Jr.

Next Monday will be Christmas Day, and I hope everyone has one of the best Christmases they have ever had.

Last year, I wrote a column about the night my grandson, Beau, corrected the preacher during the Christmas Eve service at Eastminster Presbyterian Church.

Beau was probably only seven or eight years old at the time, and he had gone forward for the children’s sermon. The preacher said, “Boys and girls, there is a song which says Christmas is the most won-won-wonderful time of the year.” Beau then piped up, much to my great surprise, and said “It is not the most wonderful time – it is the hap-hap-happiest time!”

I hope this is a very happy time for you and your family. But I have read and heard that it can be a very sad or even depressing time for many people.

Very early in my adult life, I realized that everybody gets hurt by life. Everybody needs help at times during their lives, and during my career as a lawyer, judge and congressman – and even at times in my retirement – many people have come to me for help.

I never promised or guaranteed anyone anything other than that I would try hard to help them. I have seen things that I thought would be easy that became extremely difficult. I also saw things that I thought would be impossible that somehow worked out.

We have a human-run system, and I knew that if I contacted someone to ask for help for one of my constituents, if they were in a good mood they might do almost anything I asked. But if they were in a bad mood for some reason, they might not be helpful.

I said several times that my main goal was to try to help as many people as I could for as long as I could. And I can assure you that over 99% of the people I have helped never contributed to any of my political campaigns.

I have spoken to many thousands of students over the years, and I have often told them that life is filled with far more good times than bad – maybe 95% good, 5% bad – but everyone gets hurt in some really bad ways.

I have told the young people to try to work on their faith, especially when times are good so they will be prepared for those bad times that hit everyone.

For anyone who is having a very difficult time now, I would strongly recommend the entire 34th Psalm. Psalm 34:6 says “This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.”

Psalm 34:18-19 says “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

All of us worry about almost everything important in our lives. But I once heard a minister say that a friend of his had lived a life of terrible tragedy, almost none of which had ever happened.

We are blessed beyond belief to live in this country. I read not long ago that almost half the people in the world have to get by on $4.00 or less a day, and that about three-fourths have to get by on less than $10.00 a day.

Over these last couple of months, I have felt so sorry for the people of Gaza. One report said there may be as many as 20,000 killed when all the bodies are retrieved from under all the rubble of bombed buildings, with possibly two-thirds being women and children.

Two million have been made homeless, and those who are still alive are having to search desperately every day for food, water and a place to sleep. Thousands of children have been denied even rudimentary medical care and medicine. We need to all pray for these people, very few of whom had anything to do with Hamas.

My Iowa grandfather, Dr. Jacob Swisher, wrote poetry as a hobby. I have a framed copy of a poem he wrote entitled “Blessings Everywhere”. That poem starts out this way:

“‘Seek and you shall find’ is a phrase we often hear. Seek the good and you will find it, for it is often very near. Seek the blessings that are near you and blessings far away. Then at evening you’ll be grateful for the blessings of the day.”

This Christmas, if you feel lonely or the Christmas music makes you feel sad, play the old Nat King Cole version of the song “Smile” and make that your theme song. That song says “When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll bet by if you smile through your fear and sorrow. Smile and maybe tomorrow you’ll see the sun come shining through for you.”

Merry Christmas.