It's the day before Christmas. I've taken time to enjoy number-one-ranked UCLA beating Michigan in basketball. I've seen three movies in three days--The Holiday, Rocky Balboa and We Are Marshall. All experiences were impactful and worthy of comment.
There have also been hundreds of Christmas cards sent and received. Lorie and I have been blessed by the presence of our grandchildren, Micah and Jeremiah. We are still recovering from their energy! Tomorrow we celebrate the last day of Advent and Christmas Eve as we await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest of all gifts! I could have written about all, but tonight, I want to highlight a special letter from a very special friend, Bill Bradley.
Bill and I have shared so many memories--working in the training world, UCLA season tickets and a standing bet on the UCLA/USC game, and a comfortable knowledge that our friendship would last and could be picked up on a moments notice whenever needed. For a number of years, Bill has been in Oregon. He actually and completely retired to be with family--more specifically, a great bunch of grandchildren. He's taken time for vacations in the sun and with soccer, but he is enjoying his retirement years and family with no pressure to achieve any further hurdles. He says, “I continue to personally downsize and feel wonderful about it.” He is down to “three essential requirements: My big screen TV, my I-Pod and computer.” His weeks consist of a half-day reading to kids in need in a local elementary school, a half-day with his local grandkids, reading 5-7 books a month, learning beginning Spanish, yoga and badminton. One of the gifts of that kind of lifestyle is time to look back and remember--time to say thank you and I love you.
This year, two days before Christmas, I got a Christmas letter from Bill--there were the traditional pictures and updates on life with Bill Bradley. But along with it was a personal letter that I include here. It touched me because he was touched and took time to share it. I include it now to let you know that you too may have letters you need to write. I certainly know that I do. Thank you Bill for taking time to give me this gift of remembering what we have together...even to this day.
I keep a box of my favorite cards received over the years. Some are family, kept
mainly for sentiment. A child’s first “I love you grandpa” is always the best.
Some are funny. Birthday cards that are aimed straight at me. They make me
laugh and I know the other person spent some time thinking about me before
they purchased the card.
Some say “Thank You.” A few people actually felt I made a difference in their
lives. Those are very special and sometimes I even get misty-eyed reading
them. I have one from a woman named Cherie from a small town in Oklahoma
that dates back to 1983. I can’t even remember who she is, but her letter still
gives me warmth and happiness.
But the best card I ever received was from you. It is of a beautiful nature scene
with an eagle soaring, a river winding through a tree-lined valley and sunlight at
an acute angle casting glorious shadows on a rugged and beautiful landscape.
And dominating the landscape is a series of majestic snowcapped mountains.
Inside the card the caption reads “Mountains of Thanks”. But what really makes
the card a “keeper” is your message to me. You list 14 reasons why I am and
continue to be your friend. Your message wasn’t scribbled in a one-minute get-
out-the-card moment. It was thoughtful, specific, detailed, personal and kind. It
was as genuine as any communication can ever be.
It was accepting me as I am, foibles and all. It described me in all my
humanness, better perhaps than I can describe myself.
I reread your card frequently. Your message was 100% accurate, yet I think it
says more about you than me. As I grow increasingly saddened by world strife,
various forms of greediness and corruption, the indifference so many people
have to what is going on around them, I take a deep breath and read your card.
It reminds me that there are good role models out there. You are a great role
model. You are the best. You live your messages and I am the number I
Thank you my friend for being my friend. I wish you and Lone a Merry Christmas,
Happy Holidays and a very Healthy 2007.
PS: Oh yeah, enclosed I am donating 1% of my annual retirement income to
further your causes. However, I am expecting an equal donation from you next
year. Bet on it!
Thank you, Bill. You indeed are special. Friends forever! But I do want you to know that if you think writing a letter like that is going to make me feel bad about UCLA beating USC and my taking your money, forget about it!