Christmas, next to my birthday, is my favorite holiday. (You knew my birthday was a national holiday...Right?)
Well, this year, I've lost my jingle.
Don't get me wrong. I've had some true, Big God Blessings this year. I remember making my New Years prayer last year and saying, "Lord, just let me be a mom. If being a mom isn't what you want for me, then take this pain away." And look where I am? The most amazing baby in the world is working SO hard every day to say, "Mommy." (David says it's gas, but WE know the truth, don't we?)
But I just can't get in the spirit this year.
We knew grad school was going to be hard on our family, and we knew adoption brought challenges as well. We've weathered at least one devastating blow every year that we have been married, so we knew we'd come out on top. We've lost family members, all our possessions, jobs, and we've lost some naïveté as well. This year, I think we underestimated the stress of prolonged, well, stress and financial strain.
Even with that, I will tell you a secret. The secret of one of the nicest compliments anyone has ever given me, and let me tell you, I think back on it a lot during times like these.
About one week after I started working at Masco Bath, our house burned. We lost two beloved pets and damn near everything we owned. Shortly thereafter, the house was robbed of 95% of the salvageable goods, which ain't saying a lot. One of my new co-workers, Mike, was standing at my desk making small talk, asking me how I was doing. He looked me in the eye and said, "Laura, I don't know how you do it. You're here, and you're still smiling and positive. You have a great attitude."
That really touched me. You know why? Because an attitude is one of the few things you have complete control over. You can 100% choose to have a good attitude, or you can be ambivalent. His compliment meant that I, just me, had successfully wrestled my outward negativitity, which is one step closer to beating your inward negativity.
So why am I telling you this? Do I have some great secret of positivity to bestow?
It's called....Wait for it.... "Fake it until you make it."
That's right. Did I really feel positive when we lost everything? No way. I felt miserable, but have you ever noticed that you can sometimes force yourself into a better mood? Well, you can. Try this experiment: When you're grumpily braving the Christmas crowds at Walmart, smile at AT LEAST ten people.
Go ahead. I'll wait.
How'd that feel?
Little better, huh?
So that's what I'm doing. I'm choosing my attitude this Christmas. I'm going to be purposefully jolly. Don't get me wrong now. It's an on-going process, but I'm inviting you to choose with me.
-Say nice things to people. Not just, "Hey, nice Uggs/shorts combo there, Susie." Real affirmations. "Thank you for your sense of humor. I needed it."
-Be kind to yourself. Does making that sixteen story gingerbread house every year make you stressed? Don't. Just don't. What will happen if you choose not to? Will your family hate you? Doubtful. Will YOU be a nicer, less grumpy person? Probable.
-Celebrate in ways that make you happy. Christmas claymation movie marathon, anyone?
-Smile freely and frequently. Not just to the hot dude at the bank. To the homeless man on the corner as well.
-Donate to causes you support. Whether it's a handful of change to Salvation Army bell ringers or a bag of clothes to Goodwill, I guarantee you'll feel lighter. (See what I did there?)
Merry Christmas, y'all.