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THE VERY BEST CHRISTMAS STORY
The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve.  He hadn’t been anywhere in years since his wife passed away.

It was just another day to him.  He didn’t hate Christmas, he just couldn’t find a reason to celebrate.  He was sitting there looking
at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man
stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up.  “Thank you, but I don’t mean to intrude,” said the stranger.  “I see you’re busy, I’ll just go.”
“Not without something hot in your belly.”  George said.
He turned and opened a wide mouth thermos and handed it to the stranger.  “It ain’t much, but it’s hot and tasty.  Stew…, made it myself.  When you’re done, there’s coffee and it’s fresh.”
Just at that moment he heard the “ding” of the driveway bell.  “Excuse me, be right back,” George said.  There in the driveway was an old ’53 Chevy.  Steam was rolling out of the front.  The driver was panicked.  “Mister can you help me!” said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent.  “My wife is with child and my car is broken.”  George opened the hood.  It was bad.  The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead.
“You ain’t going in this thing,”  George said as he turned away.
“But Mister, please help.”  The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside.  He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside.  He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting.  “Here, take my truck,” he said.  “She ain’t the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good.”
George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night.  He turned and walked back inside the office. “Glad I gave ’em the truck, their tires were shot too.  That ‘ol truck has brand new ones.”  George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone.
The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. “Well, at least he got something in his belly,” George
thought.
George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start.  It cranked slowly, but it started.  He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been.  He thought he would tinker with it for something to do.  Christmas Eve meant no customers.  He discovered the block hadn’t cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator.  “Well, shoot, I can fix this,” he said to himself.  So he put a new one on.
“Those tires ain’t gonna get ’em through the winter either.”  He took the snow treads off of his wife’s old Lincoln.  They were like new and he wasn’t going to drive the car anyway.
As he was working, he heard shots being fired.  He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, “Please help me.”
George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic.  He knew the wound needed attention.  “Pressure to stop the bleeding,” he thought.  The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels.  He used those and duct tape to bind the wound.  “Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin’,” he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.
“Something for pain, ” George thought.  All he had was the pills he used for his back.  “These ought to work.”  He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills.  “You hang in there, I’m going to get you an ambulance.”
The phone was dead.  “Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car.”  He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.
He went back in to find the policeman sitting up.  “Thanks,” said the officer.  “You could have left me there.  The guy that shot me is still in the area.”
George sat down beside him, “I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain’t gonna leave you.”  George pulled
back the bandage to check for bleeding.  “Looks worse than what it is.  Bullet passed right through ‘ya.  Good thing it missed the important stuff though.  I think with time your gonna be right as rain.”
George got up and poured a cup of coffee.  “How do you take it?” he asked.  “None for me,” said the officer..
“Oh, yer gonna drink this.  Best in the city.  Too bad I ain’t got no donuts.”  The officer laughed and winced at the same time.
The front door of the office flew open.  In burst a young man with a gun.  “Give me all your cash!  Do it now!” the young man
yelled.  His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.
“That’s the guy that shot me!” exclaimed the officer.
“Son, why are you doing this?” asked George,  “You need to put the cannon away.  Somebody else might get hurt.”
The young man was confused.  “Shut up old man, or I’ll shoot you, too.  Now give me the cash!”
The cop was reaching for his gun.  “Put that thing away,” George said to the cop, “we got one too many in here now.”
He turned his attention to the young man.  “Son, it’s Christmas Eve.  If you need money, well then, here.  It ain’t much but it’s all I got.  Now put that pea shooter away.”
George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time.  The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry.  “I’m not very good at this am I?  All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son,” he went on.  “I’ve lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week.”
George handed the gun to the cop.  “Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then.  The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can.”
He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop.  “Sometimes we do stupid things.”  George
handed the young man a cup of coffee.  “Bein’ stupid is one of the things that makes us human.  Comin’ in here with a gun
ain’t the answer.  Now sit there and get warm and we’ll sort this thing out.”
The young man had stopped crying.  He looked over to the cop.  “Sorry I shot you.  It just went off.  I’m sorry officer.”
“Shut up and drink your coffee ” the cop said.
George could hear the sounds of sirens outside.  A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt.  Two cops came through the
door, guns drawn.  “Chuck! You ok?” one of the cops asked the wounded officer.
“Not bad for a guy who took a bullet.  How did you find me?”
“GPS locator in the car.  Best thing since sliced bread.  Who did this?” the other cop asked as he approached the young
man.
Chuck answered him, “I don’t know.  The guy ran off into the dark.  Just dropped his gun and ran.”
George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.
“That guy work here?” the wounded cop continued.
“Yep,” George said, “just hired him this morning.  Boy lost his job.”
The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher.  The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered,
“Why?”
Chuck just said, “Merry Christmas boy… and you too, George, and thanks for everything.”
“Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there.  That ought to solve some of your problems.”
George went into the back room and came out with a box.  He pulled out a ring box.  “Here you go, something for the little woman. I don’t think Martha would mind.  She said it would come in handy some day.”
The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw.  “I can’t take this,” said the young man.  “It means something to you.”
“And now it means something to you,” replied George.  “I got my memories.  That’s all I need.”
George reached into the box again.  An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next.  They were toys that the oil company had
left for him to sell.  “Here’s something for that little man of yours.”
The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.
“And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with?  You keep that too,” George said.  “Now git home to your family.”
The young man turned with tears streaming down his face.  “I’ll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good.”
“Nope.  I’m closed Christmas day,” George said.  “See ya the day after.”
George turned around to find that the stranger had returned.  “Where’d you come from?  I thought you left?”
“I have been here.  I have always been here,” said the stranger.  “You say you don’t celebrate Christmas.  Why?”
“Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn’t see what all the bother was.  Puttin’ up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree.  Bakin’ cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn’t the same by myself and besides I was gettin’ a little chubby.”
The stranger put his hand on George’s shoulder.  “But you do celebrate the holiday, George.  You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry.  The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.
The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists.  The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself.  “That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man.”
George was taken aback by all this stranger had said.  “And how do you know all this?” asked the old man.
“Trust me, George.  I have the inside track on this sort of thing.  And when your days are done you will be with Martha again.”
The stranger moved toward the door.  “If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now.  I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned.”
George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe.  A golden light began to fill to room.
“You see, George … it’s My birthday.  Merry Christmas.”
George fell to his knees and replied, “Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus”
This story is better than any greeting card.
P.S.: If you finished this without a tear in your eye…, you’re a stronger person than I am.
Later Gater.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND GOD BLESS!
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Why Is Gratitude So Important?
By Caroline Nettle

Gratitude is a state of mind that comes from really appreciating what you have already and being thankful for it. If you can truly look at your life and everything in it and be grateful, you are much more likely to be content, and to attract more of the same to yourself in the future.

If you are someone who has spent a long time being miserable, or envious, or sad, or grieving, or jealous, gratitude can be very difficult to find. Perhaps you grew up in a household filled with hatred, illness, bitterness or quarrels, and so your default position is far removed from grateful and content. When you have been conditioned to think that any of the above is normal, it can be very challenging to change your beliefs and unlearn your default emotional settings.

At the beginning of the gratitude journey, it can be extremely hard to find things to be grateful for, and let go of the pain. However, one really good trick is to start a notebook and have it by your bed, and each night try to find ten things to be grateful for that have happened to you that day. When you start, it may be simple things like “I did not crash the car today when I was driving”, or “I ate enough food today to keep me from starving”, or “I have a job that pays my bills even if I do not love it”.

It could be that you are grateful for all the people who worked hard in order for you to be able to eat your dinner tonight- the farmers, the packers, the drivers, the supermarket shelf stockers, the cashiers and so on. Or it could be all those who contributed to your cup of coffee, or provided the electricity.

As you fill up your notebook day by day, you will end up with a stack of books in the corner that are full of everything you are grateful for, and on days when you are feeling down, you can see all the things you have to be grateful for in your life.

Many hundreds of people in one day all work so that you can drive your car, iron your shirts and live your life as you choose. However, when we are in ungratefulness, we cannot see all the support that surrounds us on a daily basis, nor can we see all the help that we give to others.

Another great trick is to go on a gratitude walk and spend the entire walk looking for things to be grateful for- the beautiful trees, birds, grass, ponds, your family, friends, your hobbies….there are many things that you can be grateful for if you choose to be.

As you get further into your gratitude journey, you begin to understand that actually life is a gift and that there is always something to be grateful for. Even when the situation does not go the way you would like it to, you can learn to be grateful for the lesson and the growth that the situation is teaching you.

This is very different to the poor me and why does this always happen to me mindset, where we are victim to an unfeeling world that is out to get us. Gradually we learn that events occur in life to everyone and some are good and some are not so good, but none of them are personal, they just happen. We continue to learn and grow, all the while knowing that we will survive to live another day, most of the time.

Gratitude for all that you are means that you no longer spend your time giving energy to your jealousy, resentment, anger, or bitterness. You instead funnel your energy into love, peace, and tolerance for all that is, and rejoice in your new found freedom from pain and misery.

Written by Caroline Nettle

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/why-is-gratitude-so-important