Last week I sort of gushed on Dan for the sake of his accomplishments this year and the sake of our friends/readers who may or may not really grasp Dan's contributions around here. I thought it went well, so I'm sticking to my plan to write 3 more open letters to people I admire and like (and in one case, worship), and of those three, you are next.
For the record: no, I don't worship you.
In the intervening years, I have gotten a better haircut (easy, since I have a lot less hair), I have closed the bookstore, and I have, I hope, overcome my inclination to use the merchant marine style book (at least in print). I have made a great friend in Dan Phillips -- a friend that I would never had had without the invitation to blog here. I have also had the opportunity to blog at places like FirstThings.com, and to join in at least one national conference (even if it was only TheNines, to at least establish the conservative end of the bell curve), and literally thousands of people have become an audience I can reach -- even if most of them are not my fans, but yours.
In short, because you have been kind to me, I have gained so much. Some might counter that it didn't really cost you anything, but it you risked much to put your reputation on the line for someone as hardscrabble as me, and for that I am grateful in a rudimentary sort of way.
But that little hatch into my gratitude toward you is just a tiny opening into the large mansion of your good will, and I wanted to take a moment to expose other people to that since it is Christmas, and there should be some good tidings to spread around.
You also have a great family who are, without any hyperbole, a treasure. Somehow you and Darlene raised 3 boys in SoCal and none of them are wash-outs. They are all sincerely good-hearted, and gentlemanly, hospitable. They have married well, and have children which are second only to my own in sparkle and charm. They have a sense that they belong to something unique, which I think is two parts Jesus and one part Darlene, but somehow it's all in the context that they have a father of whom they are exceedingly proud.
It is in that habitat that I find myself so much more grateful for you, because you didn't just make me a jobber for a blog which needed some functionary bandwidth filled. In spite of having a completely-full life, and having a full schedule and a full task list, you allowed me to be your friend. You invited me to your parents' home when you were there so that we could spend time together and laugh about, well, everything. When I brought my family to California (not once, but twice), you opened your home to us like we belonged there. You treated my kids like your own, and it didn't occur to you that it should be any different.
In the last seven-or-so years, of all the things which have happened because of the blog, that is the consequence which will matters the most to me, and will affect me the most for the rest of my life.
So in this Christmas season, I thank you for all your gifts to me. I am grateful for the good tidings of great joy you have given me over the years, and I wish you and Darlene, and all the generations Johnson, joy and gladness, and rejoicing in the birth of Jesus who came to us not as a judge but as a child wrapped in rags, to save his people from their sins.
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.