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Through the eyes of children

It was Henry’s first visit to the Bainbridge Christmas parade. He refused to put on his coat until they mentioned the word, “parade,” and then his arms were outstretched and he was ready to go.

The very first float threw out some candy that landed at his feet. He picked up a Tootsie Roll and clenched it in his small fist. He held on to it the rest of the parade, making no effort to pick up more candy. He was satisfied with his first Tootsie Roll.

At bedtime he insisted on sleeping with the Tootsie Roll, having no desire to eat the treat. His parents told him that he couldn’t sleep with the candy, but offered to put it on his bookshelf where it would be in the morning.

He put his newfound riches at the foot of the manager in the Nativity Scene where the Baby Jesus would take care of it for him. He didn’t argue and went to sleep easily knowing the Baby Jesus would protect his new treasure.

It is through the eyes of children that we can most enjoy the wonder of this season. Their faces light up with excitement as the sights and sounds of Christmas fill their world. We can treasure these moments even as we recall in our own past the traditions that bind us together.

The older I get, the more I realize that holding on to my own traditions without exploring the new ones of my expanding family only limits the joy I can experience.

For the first time in 27 years, I did not participate in the Christmas Cantata at our church, either by singing, playing the organ or moderating. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be involved, but my heavy travel schedule just prevented me from attending the practices necessary.

The church was filled to capacity as the First Presbyterian Church and New Hope Assembly joined choirs for the third year in a row to present a Christmas message in song titled “A Time for Joy.”

I sat in the back, having no reason to feel nervous, but somehow feeling that things were a bit out of place. Then I relaxed and listened to the words and the music of the story of this season. I heard it on two successive Sundays, truly listening to the words on the second presentation. It was beautiful and perhaps it was meant just for me.

My tradition of always playing the organ had prevented me from just listening. By letting something go, I had experienced something new.

This will be my first Christmas with Laura. She is growing like a weed and developing her own personality. Everywhere I have gone I have talked about how perfect she has been around me. She sleeps and eats without problems, smiles back at my own grinning face, and almost never needs a diaper change until I have handed her back to her parents.

This week, Laura and her mother, Elizabeth, joined me for lunch at Hardee’s. We got our food and then sat down with her propped up on the table for all to see. She wiggled and grinned a minute and then decided she was going to show Granddaddy she wasn’t so perfect after all.

I don’t know where such a loud scream comes from in such a small child. It didn’t stop, but rather got louder as she pitched a fit worthy of her mother at that age. Elizabeth took her outside and walked with her trying to get her to calm down. I watched out the window, thinking of how many times I had done the same thing. Rather than being anxious about the disturbance, I just grinned. This is one of the times it is easier being a grandparent than a parent.

I suppose as a writer and politician, I should be examining the many things going on in our government and nation.

Tiger Woods is an extraordinary athlete who may be just an average person.

Glenn Richardson’s fall from the public’s grace as speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives reminds me yet again of the dangerous pull of power.

Both men seemed to have developed that sense of invincibility that accompanies the rich, powerful and famous. In doing so, they set a trap for themselves that has snared so many people in the past few years.

I suspect Tiger will come back in a few months, continue to win golf tournaments, and add to his already enormous earnings. Hopefully he can find peace for himself and his family and discover what is really important in life.

Richardson is probably gone from politics forever. He came to the legislature the year after I was first elected. His ascent to the speaker’s position after the Republican’s assumed power was one of the biggest surprises ever to me in my political life.

The electing of the “hawks” that could descend on any committee and overrule decisions, along with the change in power of the Rules Committee, which gave them the power to limit debate, gave Richardson power that even Tom Murphy would have envied.

Georgia has a chance to change the tone of its government with the election of a new speaker. It is still the government of the people, with every person having a voice. Let’s hope they remember that as they choose a new leader.