Sunday—Finding Joy During the Holidays

Coping with life's issues during the holidays

christmas 2015

finding joy

It isn't always easy to find happiness during the holidays.  Traditions help.  I put up our tabletop tinsel Christmas tree last weekend, and that brought back memories of decorating the big Douglas pines with our kids.  There's just something about stringing the lights and hanging the ornaments that is joyful, no matter what kind of tree you have.

This morning while I was checking email and drinking coffee, I looked out of the sliding glass door and saw the spunky young doe who was born on our property last Spring.  While I was hanging laundry one day, she bounded out of the side yard and saw me for the first time.  

She was reddish-tan with white spots and no bigger than a cocker spaniel.  I froze knowing that there was a protective mother nearby, and we stared at each other until she turned and bounced off into the back yard.

It's a real life Bambi and Thumper story, except instead of a rabbit, this little deer has made friends with two feisty red squirrels.  Whenever I see her grazing on the newly sprouted winter growth in our back yard, her two fluffy companions are close by, charging up and down the fence posts, flicking their bushy tails and playing tag on top of the wood pile.  

This scene gives me joy.  Watching this young deer grow is a gift.  To me, this is Christmas.

giving help

I love helping.  It doesn't matter if it's a human or an animal, it gives me great joy to help someone in need.  As much as I love to complain about them, I love taking care of our geriatric cats.  Yes, it is an inconvenience, but they depend on us, especially in December when it is cold outside, and they need extra warmth.  We help them, and in return they give us unconditional love.  

Unconditional love is their gift to us.  To me, this is a powerful reminder of why we celebrate Christmas.  It is about giving and sharing unconditional love.

sharing optimism

This month, we are helping our adult daughter move out of a shabby apartment owned by a deranged slumlord.  In addition, her soon-to-be exhusband threatened to serve her with divorce papers last week, so she is not having a very good Christmas.  

The ex doesn't know it, but his gift to us is the divorce.    

Christmas came early for our daughter when against all odds, she managed to snag a temporary room to live in until she can move into a newly renovated apartment that will be ready at the beginning of February.  The slumlord canceled her lease at the end of December, so she had to move by the end of this month.    

It took krones to make it all happen, and that's where our Christmas gift comes in.  Sometimes, the most valuable gift that anyone can give is one without strings.  To me, this is the best kind of gift to give.

accepting loss

For me, Christmas is a time to reflect on the year and to accept everything that has happened, even when things don't work out exactly as planned.  

  • Relationships end.
  • Marriages fail.
  • Friends grieve over unexpected loss.
  • Bigotry is tolerated. 

Loss is a part of life.  With loss comes compassion, acceptance, clarity, and change.  Profound loss taps into our most basic qualities as caring individuals.  We reach out to comfort strangers and friends as they grieve.

celebrating christmas

For me, Christmas is about finding joy, giving help, sharing optimism and accepting change.  More than anything, Christmas is about appreciating small miracles when they happen.

  • In the middle of winter in Denmark, our daughter found a place to live.  Her new landlady gave her a Christmas ornament of an angel wearing a Batman mask.  

  • Next Spring, the deer family will have another set of twins.  Perhaps, I will meet them when I am hanging the laundry.  

  • Summer will bring long days and dinners out in the gazebo.  The hummingbirds who are spending the winter here with us will sip sugar water from their feeder while we eat homemade poké with chopsticks and listen to Hawaiian music.

  • In the Fall, our trees will explode with color that is so pure and bright that it will shine through the curtains and cast a golden orange hue into every room. 

have a joyful holiday season

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