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WOSTER: ‘Much in this world is good’

Terry Woster, Daily Republic Columnist  Sometimes a really nice Christmas present comes unexpectedly before the actual holiday has arrived.

That happened to me at least three times in the past week or so. One of the gifts was an actual, physical object. The other two were experiences. Each nudged me closer to the real spirit of the season, and, who knows? I just might hold that feeling through the rest of the pre-Christmas rush.

No doubt you’ve had the same or a similar experience at some point in your run-up to Christmas. If not this year then surely in the past.

My first experience involved a holiday party at an assisted living center in Chamberlain. We went to celebrate with Nancy’s mom and we connected with several other Chamberlain and Reliance folks.

At the party, I sat at the same table as a guy who graduated from high school in my class. With a nudge from someone else at the table, we started reminiscing about CHS days, particularly our exploits in track and field. My classmate was a terrific high hurdler in school. He doesn’t remember being all that good in that event. He was, though. I can still see him stretching over the last hurdle, his forehead nearly touching his lead leg.

What he remembered vividly was running the mile relay our senior year against a team from Mitchell. Well, yeah, how could he forget that? I remember it as well. It was the last event of the night, and we were pretty close in team scores. Mitchell had several excellent quarter-milers, as always. I anchored, and this guy ran third. He recalls running against Doug Barth, a really good all-around athlete for the Kernels. I remember waiting in the passing zone as my guy came off the turn fighting with Barth for the lead. It seemed like forever waiting for the baton. I’m pretty sure we lost the relay, but at the table the other night, we felt like winners.

The next experience happened in Brookings a couple of evenings later. Our granddaughter is a senior at Brookings High School. We drove over to see the school choir’s Christmas concert. The setting, in the performing arts center on campus, was perfect. The music was great, and the harmonies were superb. I knew several songs. Some were unfamiliar but worth hearing again. In her choir robe, our granddaughter looked quite a bit like an angel, and I spent most of the evening with a lump in my throat.

The concert finished with “The Hallelujah Chorus.” The combined choirs, as well as several BHS alumni, crowded on stage for that finale. Our granddaughter stood next to two classmates who used to visit us about once a year for a long weekend from the time they were about fourth graders. Here those young kids were, seniors in high school, together just like they were when they were in grade school. They’ll go their own ways come graduation, but at least one last time, there they were. That alone was worth the drive.

Finally, just yesterday, the physical gift arrived. Home for lunch, I looked out the window and saw an object next to Santa and Mrs. Claus on the porch swing. I hurried out and found a Missouri River Fourth of July boat anchor. You might mistake it for a cinder block, until you see the length of anchor line and the heavy chain that fastens the line to the anchor. My friend Dick used one last summer to hold his boat fast while he watched fireworks from the river. He loaned me one, too, and I’ve been wishing for my own ever since. Wish no more. I have a genuine Fourth of July anchor under the tree. (It’s a little in the way, but, hey, it’s a Christmas gift.)

The tag said “from Santa,” but I suspect my friend Dick talked to the old boy.

What do the three gifts have in common? Maybe only that each of them brought good memories, warm feelings and a sense that, for all the bad things we read and hear about, much in this world is good.

I can’t wait for Christmas.