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Our thoughts are with those not celebrating on Christmas

As we feed our holiday anxiety with the details of travel or meals or house guests or presents — or whatever we think we've got to be stressed out about — let's take a moment to recognize and appreciate those who are getting ready to kiss their families goodbye to head on out to work on Christmas like it's any other day. For some, it's been a long time since they've gotten to celebrate with their families the way most do because their jobs require them to care about us. Police officers, medical professionals, tow truck drivers, dispatchers, some utilities workers, firefighters, bus drivers, military members...the list goes on with people who will not be home for Christmas this year because of their jobs. You can bet they wish they had the option to be stressed out about the little holiday details because it would at least would mean they'd be there for them. Instead, they're there for us.

Then, of course, there are those who will not spend Christmas at home this year because they are up at a hospital somewhere, praying for a loved one to get better...praying it's not their last Christmas together and wanting more than anything to believe in Christmas miracles.

There are also those who are, at this very moment, sitting in a crisis shelter because their home proved anything but warm or welcoming. For them, there have been few Christmas traditions, as hard lives and pain have been more of their constant. They're not as worried about the extra calories from Christmas treats tonight as they are about treating their pain and getting out of their situation safely.

Then, of course, there is the fact that you are American and sitting here in this chilly, laid back little neck of the woods where we get cozy and where Christmas is a reason to celebrate. Throughout the world tonight, there are millions who were not born as lucky as us. They are not wondering if people like the gifts they bought, because they have no money for food or proper shelter, much less gifts. The idea of Christmas is as foreign to them as clean drinking water is.

This is not intended to be a Christmas "downer," but merely a reminder to take in the little "problems," if you've got them, because there are those who would do anything to swap. The holidays can, most certainly, be stressful at times, but this is when perspective is incredibly important. What is the worst thing that'll happen if your child doesn't like his or her toy? They'll get over it. So what if you've got company coming over and you're really not that great of a cook and your house is less than stellar? They'll get over it, too. If you get to celebrate this Christmas, you're lucky. Let's take a big step back, take a deep breath and soak it all in...all of it — everything we've got.