I suppose that I appreciate my family even more because my first attempt at building one was a failure. I chose the wrong woman. When you grow up loving people that you don't like, it isn't a stretch to imagine that you would marry someone cast out of the same mold. I should have known better, but didn't. I was even foolish enough to pursue her despite repeated rejections. I simply wore her down. The marriage only lasted about three months though we remained together for four years and had two children. One is dead and the other estranged.
Then I met Arlene. No, I didn't really learn my lesson. I simply got lucky. I had a good friend who made the match. He made it well and it stuck. We had two children, now three grandchildren. We are closely engaged in their lives. I have concluded that grandchildren are God's gift to those who suffer parenthood.
Many years ago, when I was a young sailor, there was a popular television show, Adventures in Paradise. Gardner McKay starred as Adam Troy, a World War II veteran who remained in the Pacific Islands to skipper a trading schooner. My mother often remarked that she could envision me living that life. Although I was drawn to it by my love of sailing, the reality of my life proved her wrong. Although my experiences with a dysfunctional family might have pushed me into a lonely life at sea, I was still drawn to a more domesticated fate. I'm glad I was.
Lest I depress you overly much (that wasn't my intention), let me offer the following video as my Christmas card to all the world.