Just in time for the holiday season ...

Edna's tree

I am far from being a perfect person and far from being wealthy. I struggle with the same stressors as everyone else such as increased taxes, decreased wages, bills and rising healthcare costs, but for me, each holiday is a reminder of just how short life is, and I thank God that I haven’t lost sight of what’s important. I have learned not to stress-out. I am not consumed by corporate greed for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday. Since I was a child, it has never been about the gifts, but an emotional time of reflection. For me, the holidays are all about love, family, and memories, both good and bad. Those that know me know that I do things differently and have always tried to find the good in everyone and everything: always have and always will. Personally, I think I am a better person for it.

When the holidays roll around, I find myself thinking of those that have passed away or of those I have lost touch with over the years. I think about those activities I can no longer participate in due to my own health, and I think about the people I used to chum around with, and the mischief and fun we used to enjoy. But I also realize that times change, people grow older, move away, become sick, divorced and yes, some change for the better; others for the worse. There are those that have succeeded and those that have lost everything only to struggle day to day to put food on their table and clothes on their back. There are the elderly and infirmed struggling with health and finances trying to keep a roof over their heads and their pets fed.

There are those lying in the hospital waiting for a familiar face, some want a listening ear, to hear a word of hope, or just get a hug. It doesn’t take that much time or effort to make someone’s day. The feeling one gets for that extra effort is extraordinary.

Whether I have it or not, I take the time to write a letter, stop by and say hello to those I haven’t seen or just connect with them the old fashioned way…by telephone.

It took a lot of convincing by friends for me to join Facebook but it has proven to be one of the best things that has happened to me not only to re-connect with friends and to keep in touch with relatives across the United States but also to gain an insight to what the average person finds important to them throughout the year….not just what the media wants us to believe or how others want us to act.

I recently posted a simple question to my friends: What is the best way to celebrate the holiday season? I asked this because over the years I have been surrounded by negativity and to be honest, it can get very depressing especially when I miss those I love and the good times we had. Sometimes, the jobs people choose only expose them to the bad side of life so becoming negative is second-nature but I honestly don’t believe that the majority of people are really that bad.

The answers I received gave me hope and reassured me that people are still inherently good and that they haven’t forgotten the true meaning of the season. Responses came in from all over the United States. Those that answered expressed the need for family gatherings over dinner and love; traditions and memories, children and God. Not one person said the holidays were for the sales or gifts. If a person only listens and watches the media, one would think that that is what the holidays are all about…commercialization.

I would love to see a time when the holidays weren’t commercialized, when we got back to the values of family and prayer, when we remembered those we lost and re-connect with those we have lost touch with. I would love to see a time when there was a smile on every child’s face with both parents there to witness the joy. Life is too short for grudges and disagreements and a “what can you do for me” attitude. Before we know it, those we love are gone and the only thing we have are memories. I can never get back my dog that died on Christmas morning many years ago, or make amends with my father who died in 2010. I can’t bring back the relatives I’ve lost, my friends who died or the pets I’ve loved and lost. I can’t take away people’s pain or heal their sickness as much as I would like to and I can’t make people like the holidays or find good in others. That has to come from within. For me, the season is full of love and family, memories and the power of prayer no matter what faith someone may be. I will always cherish the season and I hope my readers will too.