by Ed Thompson
On November 6th, 1963, and eleven pound, ten ounce baby boy was born to a Mr. and Mrs. Merlyn Thompson of Waterloo, Iowa. They named him Jeff. On July 12th, 1986, Jeff was killed in a swimming accident at a rock quarry. On November 6th, 2001, on what would have been his 38th birthday, his big brother Ed called his father and then his mother to wish them both a Happy Jeff’s Birthday.
It’s a little tradition of mine. Just one way of saying to my parents that I love them and that I’m thinking of them, and of Jeff, on what can be still, a difficult day for us all. But, something else happened on November 6th, 2001. Little Sarah Louise fell asleep in my arms, and as I looked into her peaceful face, I cried. I cried because I have been blessed beyond my feeble ability to fully convey the extent of my gratitude.
In our business, Christmastime is the feast. We write more. We produce more. But, before I let myself become overwhelmed with the inventory of spots that absolutely, positively have to start tomorrow, I’ll turn off my word processor. I shall shut down my digital workstation. I will bring the fader down to my mic and attempt to thank God for some of my blessings, personal and professional.
Bill and Bob. If you don’t know, I can’t explain. If you do know, no explanation is necessary.
Amy Lou, who didn’t ask if I was out of my mind when I asked her if she’d be my wife. All she said was, “Yes!”
Damion, Elric, and Sarah. I am a supremely happy man because I have heard their little voices call me Daddy.
Kaitlyn and Kiersten, ‘cause they call me Grandpa.
Terry Coates, who taught me everything I know about redemption.
Ed Mutum, who taught me everything I know about forgiveness.
My Mom and Dad, who taught me everything else.
Brian Thompson, my surviving brother, who is brave without boasting while he saves lives as an EMT.
Harry Edward Dahlgaard, my grandfather, who showed me how to shake a man’s hand.
Samuel Merideth Thompson, my other grandfather, who could tell a story better than anyone I have ever known and who insisted that Mom name me Edward Merideth instead of Merideth Edward.
Laverna Thompson, my grandmother, whose farm scarred hands could caress a seven-year old boy’s arm and make him feel safe while he sat in her lap.
Bob Einhaus, who gave a longhaired, know-it-all 19-year old kid his first big break in radio.
Phillip Kelly, who gave an almost washed-up 32-year old his second big break in radio.
Ludwig Von Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, George Frederick Handle’s Hallelujah Chorus, Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Texas Flood, and Mannheim Steamroller’s Stille Nacht. I weep every time I hear them played.
Larry Cederoth, Jim Raikes, and Dave Williams, who did more than just their jobs at Central Community High School by challenging me to be better than I was.
Ernie Banks, for his, “let’s play two,” attitude. He did what he did because he loved doing it. The fact that he was paid for what he did was a bonus.
Columbian Supremo coffee and Dominican cigars. Some things just belong together.
Jay Ward, creator of Rocky & Bullwinkle, and his cast of voice-over artists including, June Foray, who served as the inspiration for a lot of what I do today.
Michael Palin and John Cleese of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, writers and performers of The Parrot Sketch, the funniest piece of comedy created since Abbott and Costello’s Who’s On First.
Dick Orkin. Chicken Man, need I say more?
Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare, Roy Williams, and Rush Limbaugh who helped me to understand that words mean things.
And finally, the countless number of men and women who, over the past 226 years, have gladly sacrificed “[their] lives, [their] fortunes, and [their] sacred honour” for a country where I might live a free man to try and become what God intended me to be.
In Charles Dicken’s, A Christmas Carol, Jacob Marley could not see his blessings because his “spirit never roved beyond the limits of [his] money-changing hole.” It was only after death that he realized what he’d missed and by then was powerless to feel anything but regret for having neglected them. I have no wish to sermonize. As Marley said to Scrooge, “[That] comes from other ministers, to other kinds of men.” My only hope is that by sharing my blessings, it might cause you to linger a moment and look beyond your own “counting house” to take pleasure in yours…before they’re gone.
A happy Christmas to you all and may God bless us, every one!