AS the clock ticked toward Christmas this week, my mind was racing at times. So much left to do. So little time.
It is always this way.
The week was evaporating, but each day I would swallow some panic and start my daily routine, reading the morning papers and checking email.
One day I took a quick peek at Facebook. I'm a half-hearted social networker and hadn't done this in days.
Scrolling down the page, I spotted a YouTube video link. There was no time for this, but I clicked on the little arrow to make it play.
Maria Callas began to calm me with her glorious rendition of "Ave Maria."
Thank you, Karan Ireland, for posting the link. I needed that.
Next I saw a post from a co-worker. She was sad because her grandfather, 85, had died in his sleep the night before. "Christmas is canceled," she wrote.
I realized I personally knew three families who had lost loved ones since Monday.
And I was worried about unwrapped presents?
Another bit of needed perspective.
It is easy to lose perspective as Christmas approaches.
In the buildup to such a complex holiday, we can fail to appreciate what we're preparing for - celebration of the birth of Christ, gift giving and receiving, great meals, time with loved ones.
If we are preparing for such moments, we are blessed.
This month, an unusual happening was reported.
Somewhere a big-hearted shopper walked up to a layaway counter and paid someone else's balance.
The store notified the layaway customer so the merchandise could be picked up before Christmas rather than being returned to shelves.
The story had nothing to do with an errant celebrity or a weird crime, but it went viral.
People headed to layaway counters in their own towns. Many specifically asked to pay the balances of parents who had selected clothing and toys for children, possibly hoping they would scrape together the needed cash by Christmas.