We had a brilliant Christmas in the Howlett house. As usual, I didn't work between 24/12 and the new year. Instead I spent some quality time with my family. I'm a very lucky man to be able to do so.
To remind me just how lucky I am, this Christmas, a series of unfortunate events left me with the sense I was being sent a message from above.
23rd December: I attended Karen's step dad's funeral. He was 62. A timely example of what alcohol and tobacco abuse can reduce the human body to. The funeral wasn't very well attended at all.
Christmas Eve: we woke to find our boiler had stopped working. I've known for months we needed a part replacing but didn't realise it would suddenly break or that it might happen on Christmas Eve in the middle of a unseasonably-cold spell. Despite Karen declaring "Christmas is ruined!!" we managed to get hot water and heating back just after lunchtime. It only cost forty pounds (including part) thanks to a plumber with a conscience.
Christmas Day: I pulled a muscle in my lower back while putting my pants on. You may well laugh but I was in agony for about 6 days after and was unable to dress myself or do much by way of helping Karen with the kids. Simple things like getting out of a chair took forever and bending over was impossible. You don't realise how much you use your back until you damage it. Especially when you've got 3 little ones.
What did I learn? Not to take for granted the fact I am alive, surrounded by friends and family, healthy, able-bodied and have a warm house to live in.
A few days after Christmas I was at the local park pushing the kids (as far as my back would allow) on the swings when an elderly gentleman (with a white beard IIRC) walked past and said "You're a very lucky man!". It was like something out of a cheesy Hollywood moment. You couldn't have made it up.
Saying you'll appreciate how lucky you are is easily said. Actually being appreciative and not taking things for granted is much harder. I'm going to try though.
Here's to 2011.