Monday, December 19, 2016


I wrote another blog today. More opining about the President-Elect, the Russians, the world and all its problems, dangers and disputes.

Polly didn’t like it. Her counsel: it’s Christmas time. Write about Christmas.

And so it is. December 19, 2016. Five days until Christmas.

Downstairs, from the bookcase that holds the family bible, my Supreme Court opinions, our Last Will and Testament and some other significant papers, I retrieve a dog-eared letter sized binder containing 49 typewritten pages.

The cover is decorated with a Christmas card picture of a little girl standing on a chair and putting up Christmas decorations. It announces the title of this little tome: Five Days To Christmas.

It is a chronicle written in 1969. I was then Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. We lived in a large house on Berkeley Road in the west side of Detroit area known as Sherwood Forest. Five bedrooms, four fireplaces, an extra lot next door. It was a great place to raise a family and a great place for Christmas. Our six children ranged in age from four to seventeen.

In the course of a sleepless night on December 19, 1969, I decided on a very special Christmas present to give to my family. I decided to do three things:1)   quit smoking; 2) do it cheerfully and not brag about it, and 3) write down all the things I think and feel during the five days before Christmas.

While I managed to stop smoking during that holiday season, it was not until five years later that I finally kicked the habit for good.

In due course, I gave each of our children a copy of the little book. I am told that every so often they read it again and enjoy reminiscing about those ‘good old days.’

Whether I was cheerful is a matter best left to the memories of my family and to the episodes I described in the booklet.

As I skim it again myself from the perspective of eighty-seven years, I am touched a little and amused by the hectic lives we were living. Obviously, I didn’t know then what I know now. I had no idea what life would be like in 2017.

In December of 1969 some people were suggesting that I should run for the United States Senate in 1970, and I was considering it. Polly was not very keen about the idea. Neither of us had any idea that in three years I would start a law school and resign from the Court.

Considering how things have worked out for us, the final paragraphs of “Five Days to Christmas” are rather prophetic:

For people like us there is nothing to worry about in a new year of 1970 or a new decade of the 70’s. We will make all of the decisions when then shall become now. The time of decision will be  a crashing waterfall of pushing and pulling and testing and shouting and laughing and holding hands and being proud and crying and consoling and accepting the flexible challenge of the future and being reconciled to the inflexible memory of the past, and believing in the total importance of the present.

And now it is Christmas.

Now it is the day on which the Babe was born.

Who comes into our hearts and into our lives.

Who helps us to love one another.

As He loves all of us.

Who teaches us to see in the smallest events of our daily lives

The miracle of His mercy and His love.

Who teaches us to be happy now

Just knowing that now is Christmas

And we are all together.

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