This may have been a grim year in some respects, but we have many blessings to be grateful for on Christmas.

We first of all would like to thank the Good Samaritans who’ve been helping us out this season. My wife won a raffle at a Forest Park business and the employee was so considerate she didn’t tell me about the iPod she’d won – just in case she wanted to give it to me for Christmas, which by the way is still an option.

There’s the Forest Park handyman who replaced our bathroom door, a Christmas miracle if I’ve ever seen one. We needed a new door because the old one had malfunctioned to the point that my son got trapped inside. I kicked the door in, forgetting there was a mirror attached. The first vicious kick caused the mirror to crash down on the tiles. The second kick freed my son but permanently disabled the door.

We’re grateful to our neighbor, who surprises us with baked goods. The pumpkin muffins lasted less than an hour. We have another neighbor who clears our snow without being asked.

Where would we be without the man who changed my wife’s tire after she struck a hunk of metal on the Eisenhower? He said if he weren’t out of a job he wouldn’t have taken any money for his troubles.

We’re thankful for the unexpected generosity of family and friends, and for those “pennies from heaven” we get from time to time. For example, I received a refund on my private detective insurance just for not shooting anyone last year.

In fact, instead of spreading misery in my job, I’ve had assignments to locate people who have inherited money. Causing a person to cry tears of joy is so much better than getting foreclosure papers thrown back in my face.

There are also things to be grateful for in Forest Park. The reorganization of the District 91 schools has gone smoothly and has created a better learning environment for students and staff. We’re also proud to have the first graduating class from Proviso Math and Science Academy.

Reconstruction of Harvard and Jackson was at last completed and one of the worst eyesores in Forest Park was torn down at 1000 Beloit. We even have a new anti-pedophile playground in town. Moreover, we’re proud to be home to the 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame and its impressive monument honoring inductees.

Lastly, I’m thankful to live in a town where the citizens so strongly support the food pantry.

As for gathering with family for the holidays, we no longer hold Ricefest, because we can actually get together on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not only that, my sister invited my keyboard to come over tomorrow. I’m sure she meant the amp could come, too.