I guess I used to be a pretty tough guy. I rode around in a police cruiser with a .38 strapped on my hip, approached a car full of suspected bank robbers supposedly armed to the teeth, sent criminals to jail who threatened my life, sent my family out of town after receiving death threats. Raced through the streets past charred bodies helping to save lives after an explosion in the little town I lived in at the time. You know, the usual. As I approach another Christmas putting me closer to my seventh decade though, I find I’m becoming a real softie. Now that I’m mostly retired, my main focus is finally on my family. I sit and watch movies that used to fire me up with patriotic vigor and now I shed tears when I think about my own children if they had to endure what the protagonists in the films go through. I constantly worry about the direction our country is taking because of how it may affect my children and grandchildren. And I get nostalgic as I remember little incidents about the kids growing up. Like my son, the Breckster, being festooned like a Christmas tree with toy guns and knives during his Rambo stage, his fuzzy blond hair putting the best Afro to shame (he’s bald now) or the time I first went to pick up later two time Arizona state gymnastic’s champion Tiffany. As I stood in the door to the gym, I watched all these little girls running full tilt boogie down this long mat to vault. One after another, they launched themselves into the air and crashed into the pummel horse and left bruised, beaten and in tears. Oh my God, I thought as I waited in sudden fear for Tiff to take her turn. And then it happened. She ran like the wind. And…made a perfect vault. Or the time I was recording on the video cam our Xmas decorated home and the sly Melinda who was supposed to be in bed, dressed in her pjs, popping up around corners to get in the video. Tragically, Christmas time is also the time when the suicide rate is high. But for many, including myself, it is a joyous time because I get to share the holidays with my three wonderful children and now my grandchildren. If I die tomorrow, I’ll go knowing that I’ve fulfilled the best thing in life which is bringing three wonderful people into the world, getting them educated and now being able to watch them prosper. Merry Christmas.