‘Tis the holiday season. Even for the non-religious, it’s a time to gather with family and friends and be thankful for what we have.
I usually use the Midwinter Solstice as a time for reflection on the past year and planning for the year to come. This year it started a wee bit early. Mother Nature woke me about 4am Monday morning – I think it was on purpose. Waking that early, I had the opportunity to look at the night sky which was full of bright stars. (We live in the country with no light pollution. However, it’s been at least cloudy if not raining for quite some time so this was the first night in awhile that we had a clear sky.) The sight of all those stars usually awes me but this time it went a bit deeper.
As I climbed back into bed, I started thinking about the fact that had we still lived in the city, I wouldn’t have been able to see such a sight. I love where we live. Then I got to thinking about my wonderful husband and how lucky I am to have someone so loving and supportive. While scratching the head of one of our cats who, noticing I was awake decided she needed attention, I thought back on the past year.
Despite the world’s economic woes, we’re OK. We’ve both seen a reduction in our income which has meant cutting back on some things but we still have a roof over our heads and food on our table. My book was accepted by a publisher which means I won’t have to go the self-publishing route … no out-of-pocket expenses there.
The love and support of my friends is incredible. Two of them had to move house after the floods in Atlanta in September yet, through it all, they celebrated every happy occasion in my life as if it had happened to them. The emails I exchange with friends far away keep me on an even keel.
As I finally drifted back to sleep with Smudge curled next to me, I thought about how lucky I was. I fell back asleep with a smile on my face.
Tuesday I had to make my usual run into Atlanta to see clients. Atlanta traffic isn’t the greatest at any time and is worse during the holiday season. Because of this, I was rather grumpy by the time I got to the salon I’ve patronized for more than ten years for manicures (one of my self-indulgent luxuries).
One of the reasons I’ve been going to this particular place for so many years (even after moving 2 hours away) is not only do I get a good job for a fair price but because the salon owner helps immigrant Vietnamese make a life for themselves here in the US. She sponsors them for their green card, teaches them a trade and helps them with English. Working with the public, they improve their language skills rapidly. It’s fun to see the progression in the language with each visit. The young lady that did my nails on Tuesday obviously hadn’t been here very long and her lack of English severely limited the normal chit-chat that goes on when ladies congregate anywhere.
When she was done, she looked at me and, somewhat embarrassed, said “Merry Christmas”. It didn’t come out perfectly but you could tell she had been practicing that phrase and it’s the thought that counts, anyways. I wished her Happy New Year back and waited as she digested that phrase and repeated it back to me. As I nodded and smiled, her face lit up – she got it right.
That smile, to me, is something more to be grateful for. The joy on her face was as precious as that of a child on Christmas morning. It drove the grumpiness right out of my mind and I smiled during the whole traffic-filled drive home, thinking about her smile.
Other things have happened this year that have been wonderful and yet others that haven’t been so good. But it’s the little things that bring a little sunshine to each day that I love.
Hanukkah and Yule have passed. Christmas and Kwanzaa are yet to come. However you spend this holiday season, I wish you smiles each and every day.