My goal this Christmas season is to watch as many movie versions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” as possible.

As with most of my aspirations, I’m lagging far behind. So far, I’ve only seen two – the one with Patrick Stewart as Scrooge, as well as the 1984 classic with George C. Scott.

It’s fun to watch multiple versions of the same story. The words, based on Dickens’ writing, are pretty much the same. The characters are played similarly, the settings similar and the message identical: Appreciate your life, your friends, family, acquaintances and the opportunities you have while you still can.

The famously miserly Scrooge ends up obtaining supreme sympathy, empathy and beneficence. The old dog learned new tricks indeed.

Like Scrooge, I struggle with appreciation. I blame my condition, and Scrooge’s, on human nature. I see it in myself and all around me: an inability to appreciate the blessings I have until they’re gone. Anybody who has lost a job, a loved one or even a pet knows it’s easy to take something or someone for granted.

The possibility of losing a near-and-dear furry friend became a reality for me this week. For 13 years, Lion has been a good Maine coon cat fulfilling his role as a quiet, comforting companion, never asking too much or being a pesky nuisance. Though a disappointing mouser, he is a faithful friend, there when you need your lap warmed and always welcoming of a few pats.

It wasn’t until last week that I understood how much I liked this cat. I’ve never been an animal lover and thought mostly of my two cats as serving the practical purpose of fending off mice and moles. But Lion became ill recently, lazing groggily and moping around like a zombie. I thought for sure he was a goner.

Amazingly, he is still ticking as of this writing, and I’m doing everything I can to keep him going. It took a brush with death for me to truly appreciate my cats. I feel like Scrooge waking on Christmas morning realizing I have another chance to appreciate my blessings.

Appreciating the good things is hard to do, even in the political realm. America has never been better, though naysayers clamor louder than ever. Democrats pursue a hate-filled putsch of anything associated with President Trump, and they are cheapening Congress’ most serious tool, impeachment, to fulfill their long-sought goal of unilaterally deposing him.

Like Scrooge, Democrats have lost sight of reality. Miserly with their compliments of the good going on in the country, they’re focused only on the negative. Presidential candidates complain at every turn, as though government can answer every social ill. They choose to portray Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president as something illegal while ignoring exculpatory evidence.

Trump, even in the face of these unrelenting, years-long attacks, realizes America needs a resolute leader after the wishy-washy Obama presidency and aims to deliver positive progress despite the headwinds. Too bad so many choose to ignore his good work for the country and act like unappreciative Scrooges.

Christmas is an especially good chance to take a step back and view reality from a third-person point of view, as the three ghosts allowed Scrooge to see his past, present and future Christmas selves. It’s a necessary, though difficult, practice that allows us to gain proper perspective and appreciation. Here’s hoping individuals in Washington will do the same over Christmas break.

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