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Howard's End: Count The Blessings

What really matters at this time, as you and I know, has little to do with politics, war or strife, and lots to do with little boys and girls and Christmas gifts. Family, friendship, a little hope, a little peace, these are my Christmas wishes for you, and for the world. Maree Howard writes.

There are important matters occurring in the world, but with the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas drifting around us all, it is difficult to focus on much besides anticipation.

But New Zealand has not remained untouched by global events. Our grief over the death of Peter Blake half a world away, brought the messenger of despair too close to home.

Recently, a friend in Washington sent me a copy of 25 Ways We're Different This Christmas.

I have no idea who wrote it, but I believe we can all find inspiration and hope from it

1. Last Christmas we were thinking about all the things we didn't have; this Christmas we are thinking about all the things we do.

2. Last Christmas we were placing Christmas wreaths on the doors of our homes; this Christmas we are placing wreaths on the graves of our heroes.

3. Last Christmas we were letting our children play with toy guns; this Christmas we are teaching them that guns are not toys.

4. Last Christmas we were counting our money; this Christmas we are counting our blessings.

5. Last Christmas we were lighting candles to decorate; this Christmas we are lighting candles to commemorate.

6. Last Christmas we paid lip service to the real meaning of the holidays; this Christmas we are paying homage to them.

7. Last Christmas we were digging deep into our bank accounts to find money to fly home; this Christmas we are digging deep into our souls to find the courage to do so.

8. Last Christmas we were trying not to let annoying relatives get the better of us; this Christmas we are trying to give the best of ourselves to them.

9. Last Christmas we though it enough to celebrate the holidays; this Christmas we know we must find ways to consecrate them.

10. Last Christmas we thought a man who could rush down a football field was a hero; this Christmas we know a man who rushes into a burning building is the real one.

11. Last Christmas we were thinking about the madness of the holidays; this Christmas we are thinking about the meaning of them.

12. Last Christmas we were getting on one another's nerves; this Christmas we are getting on our knees.

13. Last Christmas we were giving thanks for gifts from stores; this Christmas we are giving thanks for gifts from our God.

14. Last Christmas we were wondering how to give our children all the things that money could buy; this Christmas we are wondering how to give all the things that money can't. (peace, security, hope.)

15. Last Christmas we were thinking about all the pressures we were under at the office; this Christmas we are thinking about all the people who no longer have an office to got to.

16. Last Christmas we were singing carols; this Christmas we are singing anthems.

17. Last Christmas we were thinking how good it would feel to be affluent; this Christmas we are thinking how good it feels to be alive.

18. Last Christmas we thought angels were in heaven; this Christmas we know they are right here on earth.

19. Last Christmas we were contemplating the changes we wanted to make in the New Year; this Christmas we are contemplating all the changes we will have to make in this New Reality.

20. Last Christmas we believed in the power of the purse; this Christmas we believe in the power of the human spirit.

21. Last Christmas we were sharing and spreading gossip; this Christmas we are sharing and spreading our Gospels.

22. Last Christmas we were complianing about taxes; this Christmas we understand that feedom isn't free.

23. Last Christmas we valued things which were costly; this Christmas we value things that aren't.

24. Last Christmas the people we idolised wore sports uniforms; this Christmas the people we idolise wear firefighter, medical and police uniforms.

25. Last Christmas peace on earth was something we prayed for each week; this Christmas we pray for peace every day.

Well, Scoop readers, it has not been the best of years on this Earth of ours. But I hope you will find all the peace, love and hope that you seek. For our world leaders I hope for all their seeing they may see, and for all their hearing they may understand.

Happy holidays!


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