Christmas reading

You have given everyone else their Christmas gifts, but did you remember to give one to yourself? If not, I have some suggestions that are guaranteed to fill your upcoming year with happiness and cheer. 

Read more and mix it up. Each day, look at two national newspapers with opposing political views, such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, and one local newspaper such as the Dallas Morning News. Read history – I can recommend two books I just completed: Alex Kershaw’s Against All Odds, and The Wizard of Lies by Diana R. Henriques. Read fiction – anything by Richard Osman and Louis L’Amour is excellent, and I recently enjoyed The Best Part of Us by Sally Cole-Misch. Read humor – Mad Magazine, The Onion and The Babylon Bee will leave you chuckling if not laughing aloud. 

Stop reacting to buzzwords. If you let words and phrases such as “woke,” “radical agenda,” “feminazi,” “snowflakes,” and “activist judges,” inflame you, then you are allowing the other person to control the situation and evade rational discussion. 

Opinion is merely desired results looking for a reason. Do not blindly believe news commentators, who are paid to deliver content, not facts. Read the source documents. Research. Use reason to lead to the result. 

Go zip-lining. Or 4-wheeling. Or snorkeling. Visit the rattlesnake roundup in Sweetwater, Texas, if only  for bragging rights.

Focus every conversation on the other person. People, even ones you do not like, are amazingly complex. Listen to their point of view, look them in the eye, and observe their face and body language. There is an art to understanding. Give respect even if you cannot give liking. 

Do not start a sentence with the word “I” unless you are responding to a direct question, giving a speech, or rendering a professional opinion. Otherwise, you are selfishly imposing your opinion and making the unwarranted assumption that the other person cares. 


Refrain from, figuratively or literally, dropping the mic after you make a statement. In Greek tragedy, that is called hubris, or excessive pride, and will inevitably lead to one’s downfall. You do not have a right to the last word unless it is “thank you” or “you’re welcome.” 


Share your information with those who need to know. When you name an agent on a planning document, tell them in advance and give them access to the information they will need to do the job.  For a medical power of attorney, your agent needs to know your medical history, current doctors, insurance information, and personal wishes. Otherwise, your agent must guess at life and death decisions for you. For a financial power of attorney, your agent will need access to your financial information. Without it, your agent’s job will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to perform. 

You have 5 senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. You use only two senses when you focus on your phone. Turn off your phone and you will regain the better part of your life. 

Go outside more. Experience fresh air, sunshine, rain, snow, new sights, people, and birds. Note that walking to and from your car does not count as going outside. 

Expand your taste in music. The web lists 51 musical genres. Blues, country music, and classical music, to name only 3, will each evoke different moods. For insight into the elements of music, enjoy Kirk Hamilton’s podcast Strong Songs. 

Your Christmas present to yourself is you. What a wonderful gift! Make it last this year and forever.

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Attorney Virginia Hammerle has practiced litigation and estate planning for 40 years.  She is founder and managing attorney for Hammerle Finley Law Firm, Contact her at for comments and to subscribe to her newsletter.