Jimmy Stewart meets Josie Wales: Gratitude from the depths of our souls

It’s a good thing I don’t get paid for writing this blog, because I’d be making about as much as I am right now on extended unemployment benefits.
Ta-dum-dum. That was supposed to be funny. Humorous. Amusing.
Anyway, I’ve written two columns over the past 6 or so weeks and really didn’t like either of them. I shelved them as they say in this business. When I worked at a newspaper, we used the term “spike” — as in I spiked his story because it was worthless.
I also believe I should write only when I have something significant to share or talk about, not because I’ve bonded myself to some sort of temporal commitment. I want to make sure my readers — all 3 of them — get the quality prose they deserve.
Boy, I’m really killing the trees now, aren’t I? (That’s another newspaper term for a story that’s overwritten, poorly written, not worth the paper it’s written one, hence, trees. See spike.)
So much happened in 2013, and little of it good.
I keep remembering that line from The Outlaw Josie Wales: “We shall endeavor to persevere.”
A chain of events, more accurately described as pleas for sanity, landed us on the radar of Huffington Post’s Arthur Delaney. We spoke on the phone, and he asked if he could drive up from Washington and meet us in person.
I said yes. He did. He took us out to lunch. He snapped a few photos. He asked if he had our permission to write a story about our situation. He said he’d probably call to check a few things.
He found out it would run Dec. 24 (why do people insist on tacking the words Christmas Eve on to that date?)
It didn’t merely run in the Huffington Post. It sprinted and shouted out loud in big black block letters. It was the front page, I like to tell people, until some guy named Pope knocked us off.
We still exist as part of the Huffington Post empire. You know what they say — once something is on the Internet, it will never go away.
The link:
All of this is the set-up for how we ended the year on an up note.
We knew that long-term unemployment benefits were going to end Dec. 28. We knew we could hope for a positive outcome, but we couldn’t rely on it. We talked it over, several times, and went into simply survival mode.
The night of Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve), we were in the family room playing a game or telling stories. Whatever.
There’s a knock on the door.
I get up to answer it.
No one’s there, but someone has left a Christmas card on the door sill.
Earlier that day, my 6-year-old daughter and I had delivered wife-baked cookies to three neighbors. Our next-door neighbor wasn’t home; I figured she was dropping off the card. We put it under the tree.
(We had an incredibly beautiful tree this year, which was selected by fashion-savvy daughter.)
The next morning, about midway through opening gifts, my wife handed me the mystery card.
I opened it. Jimmy Stewart moment.
Inside was a significant amount of cash — I mean, a lot — with a note that said it was from my friends past and present at my previous employer.
No names, no clues.
I cried.
Since then, there have been many generous acts and gifts from family and friends, including the Date Night movie tickets that arrived in today’s mail — anonymous, of course.
Well, for starting with the idea I had little to say, I’ve written far more than I intended to (at least I didn’t kill any trees.). I want to share the joy we felt from the kindness and generosity of others. It means so much, in so many ways. There’s still much more to say about this.
One final note: I really cut corners to post this — hence, no illustration. At least for now.

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