When sharing their lists of special requests for what Santa should leave under the Christmas tree, several creative songwriters have suggested things like “my two front teeth,” “a hippopotamus” and “you.”

Of course, children have their own lengthy lists which include toys, high-tech gadgets or envelopes filled with crisp dollar bills. Meanwhile, those who have long abandoned the youthful notion of a jolly old man delivering their heart’s desire on December 24th, the “All I Want for Christmas” list often bears a much bigger price tag: diamonds, furs, a sleek new car, a trip to a sun-drenched tropical paradise — even a new home or a partner with whom one can build a beautiful future.

Some of the hot ticket items I’ve mentioned above, I must admit, have been on my personal list in the past — sometimes even being featured repeatedly after my dreams failed to come true.

But this year, the gift which God gave to me — one which I certainly asked for and which I cannot say with assurance that I deserved because I had earned it — was good health.

This time last year, I went back home to Detroit for the Christmas holiday. It was trip to which I looked forward for several reasons: my firstborn child’s graduation ceremony during which she received her master’s in education; playing with my loveable grandson — a precocious little boy who started school this year; reviving friendships with those I hadn’t seen for far too long; and recalling memories of my recently deceased mother with my sister and others whose lives had been touched by Momma.

However, during my travels back home, I became suddenly and violently ill with what I thought at the time was simply a case of an intense mutation of the flu. But in the few hours between packing and preparing to board a flight back to the District, I became so cold, weak and confused that I would require a wheelchair, several thick blankets and plenty of fluids just to remain conscious.

In fact, during the flight, the senior flight attendant, after speaking with the pilot, said that they thought I should consider allowing them to turn the plane around and getting me to a hospital as quickly as possible. I continued to pretend that I was feeling better. I just wanted to get home.

It would be nearly two weeks later before I began to feel well enough to get out of bed and resume my hectic schedule. It would take even longer to regain my strength and recover the 10 pounds I had lost.

Many months later in early November, my greatest fears would be confirmed. I learned that the virus which I had contracted just before Christmas last year was more than just a bad case of the flu — I had been stricken with COVID-19.

Of course, the American public had no knowledge that even as early as last December, this new virus was already in our midst. It would not be until March that the medical community would sound the clarion call, warning of a new and deadly force that has since been responsible for the deaths of over 300,000 people.

During my illness, I did what I usually do when I come down with the flu — something which only happens to me every two or three years: I drank a lot of herbal tea, sipped on heaping bowls of chicken noodle soup, ate fresh fruit whenever I could stand it, took plenty of hot baths and slept for long periods of time.

So, it’s one year later and Christmas is almost here. This year, I’m alone — well actually, I have my two little companions with me: Baby Girl and Duchess who are keeping me busy and grateful for life, health and strength.

On my list for gifts that I want, I suppose I should say that I put in my request a lot earlier than usual. All I wanted for Christmas was good health — something that cannot be purchased at the shopping mall or ordered online. I didn’t realize how close I may have come to death. But the experience reminded me to take each day and make the best of it, to use my gifts and talents for good as if it were my last day on Earth and to be an obedient child of the King.

Yes, my Christmas gift — or blessing — came early this year.

In fact, it arrived special delivery on the wings of angels.

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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