My favorite Christmas movie is the 1954 musical "White Christmas," starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.
Oh, I'm old school!
You've probably heard some of the soundtrack's songs even if you haven't seen the film. Hearing the title track on a holiday playlist is no surprise, but "Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)" is less likely to be shuffled with "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" during holiday parties.
Still, it's the one that grabs my heart.
Blessings — including our family, friends and health — are personal to us; sheep, and gifts, aren't.
We really could live without the latest smart phone or tablet — either of which will be obsolete in a few months — but we'd be lost without our loved ones.
So many people have encountered things we cannot begin to imagine. I was reminded of this on Friday while surfing channels for national news.
The CBS Evening News reported on Jackie Turner, a William Jessup University student who posted a Craigslist ad that ultimately "rented" families to orphan adults.
The Sacramento area woman knew, all too well, the need to feel warmth and belonging during the holidays; she had no pleasant childhood memories, she said. "I remember getting locked up and locked in rooms. And I remember getting beatings for stealing food," she told the CBS reporter.
NBC Nightly News reported on some 250,000 civilians in Syrian suburbs who hunger amid civil war. The more fortunate civilians hop on bicycles and pedal quickly to produce enough energy to charge batteries, and they chop firewood to stay warm, Keir Simmons reported.
It's a much different picture from anywhere in the United States.
And it's why, on this day, we should count our blessings instead of gifts.
Evidently, many North Okaloosa residents know a lot about that. They're helping others, and they've inspired me.
Crestview High School students, with help from Davidson Middle School students, collected 3 tons of food and clothes for needy classmates.
Crestview Amvets Post 35 members are delivering free Christmas feasts to needy North Okaloosa families. (I'm writing this on Saturday, before official numbers are in, but if Thanksgiving's deliveries are an indication, they could be helping more than 200 families.)
Justice Livingston, a local 10-year-old, spearheaded an effort to provide toys for more than 40 families this Christmas. (See "Cops for Kids drive benefits 40-plus families," Page A1.)
Baker student Railey Conner denied herself birthday presents Dec. 15 and collected toiletries and other household staples for North Okaloosa nursing homes.
Chesser & Bar Attorneys, with Crestview and Shalimar offices, raised enough money to provide gift cards for nearly 40 teenagers across Crestview and Fort Walton Beach.
Nathan Boyles' Crestview law office and title company delivered more than 65 bags of useful items to Crestview Manor residents.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, Gordon Martial Arts and the News Bulletin served as official collection sites for Sharing and Caring's Crestview office.
And I know this list is just the tip of a generous Northwest Florida iceberg that includes area churches doubling as cold-weather shelters and soup kitchens.
Yet, more is needed, and nonprofits' volunteers gently remind us that giving opportunities don't end with the winter holidays.
We all have encountered struggles at some point in life, but they likely paled in comparison to the experiences of fellow human beings in impoverished areas.
Even current issues may be trivial compared to numerous North Okaloosans' hunger.
Let's be grateful for the gifts we received today, however large or small, and then remember those who lack life's necessities.
Merry Christmas, North Okaloosa County.