The signs of the season are all around us. Decorations abound and the gifts have substantially been purchased and wrapped by now. Admittedly, it is about now at this point in the Christmas conundrum I turn to my kids and let them know we need to do a little more shopping for their mother. The girls are horrified, but they are used to it by now.
For the past several years it has been my tradition to write some silly piece about now with a takeoff on "The Night Before Christmas." It's not in the cards this year.
It also has been my tradition around the New Year to adopt a theme. This year's theme was gratitude. It was the right choice, and there have been many times throughout the year because of that choice I had to challenge myself to stick to my chosen theme.
Adopting a focus on something, such as gratitude, is about like praying for patience. Sometimes, if you're not careful, you might get what you ask for.
We live in a world that screams for gratification as a priority over gratitude. It is important to remind ourselves in the midst of the hue and cry of life how good we really have it. Sure, not everyone can say things are peachy.
As a dear old friend pointed out recently that those who suggest we are capable of being grateful for the worst of things make it seem a little crass in the midst of a horrific moment. Sometimes we may have to let a little time pass in order to reflect gratefully on something that felt really tough in the middle of the storm. So be it.
I had a visit this year with an elderly man who was dying. His family had engaged Hospice, and he knew what was happening. His body had lost the fight against time and was wasting away. He was ready to walk into the next life without any fear.
In fact, after a visit of half an hour, I told him it was time for me to go and squeezed his hand. He looked at me and said, "You know, we just have so much to be grateful for." It hit me like a ton of bricks. Here was a man about to check out of this life, and all he could focus on was the fullness of his grateful heart. What a beautiful reminder of what life is really all about.
As you enter the melee of this season, I hope you get a moment to pause and reflect on the things for which you have to be grateful. My compass is set to hear the arrival of my children and the UPS truck dropping off some of the other traditions of my Christmas. We will get chocolate croissants, Gino's pizzas from Chicago, chicken potpies, and most of all, we will have each other. There will be the requisite presents and the hope that what was chosen was just what the recipient wanted. There will be messes to clean up.
It will only last a few hours, but it will be enough to remind me of all the things in my life for which I am most grateful.
For those of you who join me each week, may you enjoy a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday and may your hearts be blessed and filled with gratitude.