I have not used many Christmas cards over the years. Time always passes by so quickly that I usually do not manage to mail many if any at all. This year, I will post something special for everyone.
            Being a farm kid, I had the opportunity to observe the behavior of many different animals. At different times, we had chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats, beef cattle, ponies, and finally, dairy cattle. Our chicken flock numbered as many as 1,500 chickens for several years. Chickens develop a “pecking order” within the flock. The other animals also establish pecking orders within their groups.
In junior high school, I learned that humans develop pecking orders, too. In the seventh grade, my school consolidated with another small school. Our class size totaled about 40 students. In the eighth grade, we again consolidated with two other small schools and the class size grew to just over 100.
Class size had grown. Seventh grade revealed some development of a pecking order among us, but we adjusted and seemed to continue to get along well. It was in the eighth grade that I learned of humans establishing a pecking order. As the group of 100 sorted out relationships, there were two guys who tried to bully everyone. Something had gone wrong with their ability to function well in groups. You could say they did not play well with others. Both had failed twice in school so they were two years older than the rest of us. They eventually had problems with the law. They dropped out of school in the ninth grade. A few of the other guys and even a few of the girls would bully a few select people.
Eighth grade was the year I decided it would be a good idea to become friends at some level with all of my classmates. I was reacting to the presence of bullies at school. Up until that year, it seemed the students in my class all cared about how each other felt. I do not remember anybodybullying anybody else before eighth grade. I desired bringing everyone together. Bullying did not make sense to me.
I made it a point to say hi to everybody. I did not make fun of others. When any of the students from the other merging schools attempted to bully me or anybody else in the class, I stood up to them. I was fortunate that I was big enough, strong enough and quick enough to make anybody back off should they decide to get physical. Just a couple of bloody noses and fat lips established a reputation that enabled me to keep the peace.
It was during those years as a teenager that I discovered the importance of being “friends” with as many other people as possible. I discovered the importance of loving others. Looking back, it meant respecting each person and showing them compassion. The “few select people” mentioned above tended to be the quiet ones. They were more obviously different from the typical group member.
Since I usually worked forty or more hours weekly on the farm during school and 100 hours or more weekly during breaks, I did not develop any deep friendships in high school. I was to learn the meaning of having great friends or a best friend later.
College and my early career life found me learning to compete and function as an adult. It was very difficult for me. Callous, ruthless, andor uncaring people were far too numerous to my liking. I also had a tendency to want everybody to be fair and to use my definition of fair. Adjustment was necessary.
            Today, I am blessed to have many friends. I have several that I categorize as being best friends. Best friends are people with whom I am comfortable sharing anything in life. There are many others that I love who are friends and then there are my siblings and other relatives that mean so much to me.
            How does one get to this point? How is it possible to find many friends around you? How does one find a best friend? For myself, I credit a lesson from early in life that I continue to learn today. My grandmother and others who have touched my life taught me about loving others. It came from the people who lived love and shared love. Remember that love has two major components, respect and compassion. To be able to share love as with a best friend, one must be willing to be vulnerable and to accept and tolerate the occasional disappointment.
            As a Christmas card to everyone, remember Immanuel (God is with us), one of the names for Jesus. Don’t treat Jesus and God as if they are somebody with whom you only share certain things. Don’t talk with them only when you have troubles or when you want to shout praises. Jesus is one of my best friends and he can be yours.
My friendship with Jesus has grown over the years as I have become accustomed to using the unceasing prayer of the most important commandments (MIC). The MIC is stated by Jesus in Matthew 22:36-40. Since Jesus tells us that living those verses covers everything in life, running those verses and the accompanying lessons through my mind all day long means that Jesus is there all day long. I still slip, but life is much better.
            It is up to me and it is up to you to take Jesus along. Friends are only made by giving them time in one’s life.
            Merry Christmas!

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