…why are we so glum? I know things are a little unsteady right now, but we’re going to be ok. Really, we will. Pick up a book about more difficult lives (I highly, highly recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns from the author of The Kite Runner) for a little perspective. Any day here in the US, in any walk of life, is better than one in Afghanistan, especially as a woman.
And once you realize that “a bad day” is relative, there are all these joyful side effects to be savored. Take, for instance, the smaller gift exchange this year, at least in my family. There were fewer dollars spent, fewer packages exchanged, but oh, how lovingly those were selected! It was the first Christmas in a while where everyone seemed to search hard for the just-right gift, not the fanciest one. I’ve never felt so loved by thoughtful giving.
And the shift back to family-style gatherings has been wonderful as well. This year we spent New Year’s in, toasting old friends and making new ones, helping light the candles and pour the wine like family. Years past seem to have been more about glitz and glamour and a night on the town. This year felt like a hug instead of applause.
My new weekly potluck dinner parties have been embraced enthusiastically, and I don’t just think it’s because my friends want to save on groceries. It just feels so much more real, more comforting, to smell the food, pass the wine, turn up the music, and just be, without worrying about the check.
Maybe I started weaning myself early, with the big downsize and kicking the habit of stuff, but it just seems like there’s a lot of fuss now, claiming that the uncomfortable is unbearable. I say don’t tempt fate by claiming things are unbearable until you’re really sure.
Finally, my very favorite thing about all this uncertainty is all this uncertainty. I know a half-dozen people (myself included) who are using this time to launch a new venture, one that may serve them better in the future, all following a dream that was hard to leap for before the boat started rocking. Sometimes we need a little push.
My heart aches for those who are truly cold, or hungry this cold season; for the rest of us, may we remember there is much, much to be thankful for.
May your 2009 be fuller still of gratitude, take you in surprising directions, and hold more joy than your arms can wrap around.