Holiday Provides An Important Lesson

Sometimes I have to be reminded what really matters in this world.

What really matters isn't who wins the Music City Bowl between Auburn and Wisconsin.

What really matters isn't whether the BCS is a good or bad for college football, whether Oklahoma deserves to be playing for the national championship.

What really matters isn't the fact that Auburn's football team had a terribly disappointing season.

When I saw my three children, two of them adults now and one on the brink of adulthood, sitting side by side on Christmas Day and laughing at memories from years ago, when my grandchildren came running to me, when I saw the light of Christmas dancing in their eyes, I was reminded of what really matters.

When you break it down to its simplest form, love for one another is what matters most of all.

Football games will come and go. There will be more celebrations, more disappointments, more scandals. Players will rise above themselves and do things they never thought they could do and players will fail when the pressure is on. Those who fail will feel their world has ended, but it hasn't. They will feel like they will never recover, but they will. So it has always been and always will be.

Coaches, players and administrators will come and go. Some will do great things, some will make inexplicably bad decisions. Most will do some of both.

But when it's all said and done, when the games have been played and the decisions debated, we are all together in this thing called life.

We all, in our own way, do those things athletes and their teachers do. We make good decisions and we make bad ones. We enjoy the fruits of the good decisions and suffer the consequences of the bad ones. That's called living.

As we near the end of 2003 and I begin my 55th year in this world, I look back and realize just how blessed I have been.

I am blessed I had a father who, when hate was all around, taught me to me that character has nothing to do with the color of one's skin.

I am blessed Teresa, my wife of more than 27 years, is in my life and loves me no matter how many dumb things I do.

I am blessed to have children--Chrissie, Ben and Jonathan--who have taught their father lessons about getting up and fighting back when life knocks you down.

I am blessed with the unconditional love of my grandchildren--Justin, Katie and Hannah Grace Wright.

I am blessed with so many wonderful friends who have stood by me in the most difficult times of my life.

I am blessed to have spent more than 34 years writing about the games people play. I have traveled throughout this amazing country and met so many of the amazing people who live here.

I am blessed, like all of us, that brave men and women are willing to put their lives on the line to protect this wondrous thing we called freedom.

I am blessed to live in a country where I can write what I want, say what I want and worship according to my beliefs. I can celebrate Christmas and the birth of a savior without fearing a knock on my door in the night.

And I am blessed by you, those who read these words. Were it not for you, I might have to get a real job.

To all of you, may the next year bring happiness and joy. Most of all, may it bring love.

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