Blog 1212 – 12.21.2018
On This Day
On this day in 1923 my father, James Clifford White, was born. Being born so close to Christmas meant he got a lot of combined Birthday/Christmas gifts throughout his life. Having to share your birthday with Jesus when December 25th was in all likelihood not even Jesus’ birthday is bad enough. But, to have your birthday fall always on the shortest day of the year is what I call really getting “rooked” or cheated. My dad never complained about it though. Growing up one of six children in the Depression South I am sure he would have been pleasantly surprised with even one gift on December 21st throughout his boyhood years. My dad, to me, was a perfect example of the expression “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” He loved to give and it made him happy and he would hardly let you leave with loading you up with things he just knew you could use. But, try to give something to him and after telling you he could have bought it himself somewhere cheaper. If he accepted it at all, chances are that he would end up giving it back to you later, forgetting who had given it to him.
I always think of my Dad at Christmas time. It was my mother’s favorite time of the year and though he did not share her particular love of the Christmas season he did love my mother in particular. I did not always believe that but then like many little boys I worshipped my mother and thought she was always right and therefore Dad mostly not. Growing up often changes our perspective on many things.
I have come to believe that trying to make anyone else happy other than ourself is a fool’s errand. The best we can do is share our happiness with others, if they will allow us to. An unhappy person is first of all a disappointment to themselves and a heartbreak to those who love them and wish they could just be happy. The Don’t Worry Be Happy song says it so well: “In every life we have some trouble but when you worry you make it double. Don’t worry, be happy.” My dad, half joking, used to say of my mother that if she did not have something to be worried about that she would be worried about that.
In the beatitudes Jesus listed eight things or rather attitudes that lead to blessedness or happiness:
Poor in spirit – theirs the kingdom of heaven.
Mourners – they shall be comforted.
Meek – they shall inherit the earth.
Hunger and thirst for the right – they shall be satisfied.
Merciful – they shall obtain mercy.
Pure in heart – they shall see God.
Peace makers – they shall be called God’s children
Persecuted for the right – they shall see the kingdom of heaven.
Worrying was not listed for it never leads to happiness, neither does expecting some thing or someone else to make us happy, nor constantly complaining about our bad luck.
Everyone of us has within us the capacity for happiness for we were born to be happy. It is our natural default setting. We really have to chose to be unhappy and we really have to work at it to stay unhappy. Our spirits as our bodies have a built in buoyancy that will float us to the top unless we allow ourselves to be weighed down by the “cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches.” Most of us know about the cares of this life so I will just say a few words about the deceitfulness of riches. It is not wrong to want to have enough cash to pay our expenses and enough left over to enjoy life and maybe even a little more to share with others in need. The deceitfulness of riches is the false promise of happiness, security, and protection being strictly a pocketbook issue. We are guided, guarded, and protected but not my financial reserves but by the Spirit. Not by might, nor by power, (nor by a big bank account), but by my Spirit says the LORD.”
Well, my dad would probably say, “Quit your preaching, Son. They have already quit listening.” So I will close with this: Happy Birthday Dad, I know you thought I was not listening to your sage advice most of the time but I heard every word and cannot tell you how many times I have counted on your great advice and council to see me through some of the tougher patches in my life since you passed. Thanks Dad, I love you, and Merry Christmas.
These songs I always sing as a tribute to my dearly departed Daddy, Sweet Baby James.
Sweet Baby James & Long Ago And Far Away
Your friend, fellow traveler,
And James C. White’s boy,