It’s that time of the year where we look back over 2017 and take stock of how things went. I had an eventful year. A few very bad things happened. I lost my mother. Because of this loss, the holiday seasons have changed drastically for my family. Now it is only my sister and me, and my niece and her wonderful husband who live out of town, but I get to visit them often. Many people may think this is sad. I did at first, so I started looking into re-starting my homeless outreach and doing those outreaches on the actual holidays. But I prayed and felt that this year was not the time.
Then I thought that maybe I’d have an open house, where friends could stop by to enjoy a meal or say hello. Of course, many people I know already have things to do. Some people visit 4-5 or more homes over the Christmas holidays. Or they host Christmas events themselves. My sister and I thought about eating out for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we both like home cooked comfort meals. So, we decided to cook the meal that we would enjoy and to accept the blessing of leftovers coming out of our ears for the next several weeks. My door is open, and last Thanksgiving a wonderful friend whom I love very much came by. Today we may have more.
But a strange thing happened. I decided to stop stressing over the holidays. Throughout the year I have many friends and many bright moments. During Thanksgiving, I chose to be thankful for those things. During Christmas, we celebrate the birth of our savior, and really that’s something we should celebrate every day. When we look at it that way, Christmas is just another day to enjoy.
I find that when we decide to enjoy the small moments in life, we will find true happiness. On Christmas Eve, I went to church in the morning and reconnected with some wonderful people who showed up at my church. Later on Christmas Eve, I attended my church again with another old friend I reconnected with. We enjoyed a nice dinner, then drove around and took in the Christmas lights before and after the service. (A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO ALL OF THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE WHO DECORATE THEIR HOMES, YOU REALLY ROCK MY SEASON!). I have lunches, dinners and gift exchanges planned with friends in the coming days and weeks.
People who are surrounded by family may think our Christmas is sad because our family is so small. (My sister says we could hold our family reunion in a bathroom stall). I thought it would be sad too. But it’s not. I choose to dwell on the positive things that happen in my life, and there are many. I graduated one year ago with the credentials I need to work in a career I love. I’m excited to see where that will lead.
There are so many people who suffer from real depression during the holidays and throughout the year. I have often been in that position. And I may feel that way again from time to time. I know that there are some changes that I want in my life. Some are in my control and some are not. I choose to change those things that I can control, and to try to let go of those things I can’t.
I am taking the next week off to pray and ponder about what I will do in 2018 to make my life become all that it can be. Part of that plan will include things I can do to bless others, because giving increases our happiness exponentially. I will change what I can, and accept what I can’t. I will continue to enjoy the small moments and take my joy in small doses. I will not yes-but anything. (It’s a beautiful day – yes but it’ll rain tomorrow. I have a roof over my head – yes but it leaks sometimes). In all things I will attempt to accept happiness when it occurs purely and simply.
I personally am feeling joyful this season. I am thankful for whatever I have. I am thankful that Jesus was born for me and for all who love Him. He is in my life every day. I’m thankful for the milkweed I planted, which provides me with the sight of butterflies almost every day. I’m thankful that when my hibiscuses aren’t blooming (and they are blooming today), my camillas are. I’m thankful for those spring mornings when I walk outside to see dozens of irises that bloomed during the night. I’m thankful for the Christmas lights in my crazy yard. I’m thankful for my friends and family. I’m thankful that my niece graduated from college this year, I’m so proud of the young woman she has become. I’m thankful for my sister’s sobriety and the new joys she is finding in her life. Do I have issues and problems? You betcha! But I’m going to try not to focus on those unless I can change or improve them.
I pray all of you who read this will have a very blessed Christmas and a Happy 2018; that we will all learn to enjoy the little things that God gives us each day, and that we will use our abilities to spread kindness, love and blessings to all of mankind, even those we disagree with.