In blacksmithing, if you want to make a mediocre tool into a good one, you must temper it. To do this, the business end of the tool must be heated up, and as it cools, color bands will pass through the metal. When the right color presents itself, you quench the tool in water. This process makes the tool much tougher and more resilient.

As I sat down to reflect on this very peculiar year, this analogy came to mind, not so much as a thought, but rather a feeling.

Like most people, I am a creature of habit and routine. I do not like seeing my routine upset. I know where my things are and I know how and when I will use them and I expect it to be so. This year has been a clearinghouse for normal life and its routines. Suddenly, simply stopping by to see Grandma and Grampa is not a given, nor is an embrace, or even a handshake. When I wake up and realize that I can taste and smell I think “How blessed I am.” With the holidays upon us, I believe these realizations should give us pause. We really are blessed. We are still getting married, still making plans for Christmas, wondering what gift would make this or that person smile, and what food to prepare. Oooh, the food! I will continue to see the positive and the hopeful beauty of this special time in our now so special lives. I’m going to make presents and make plans and pray for other people.

All of us are tools in the hand of our maker. Hopefully, all of this tempering will make us better persons this holiday season and throughout the new year.

Merry Christmas.