“The trick is in what one emphasizes.  We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy.  The amount of work is the same.”

— Carlos Castaneda

Merry Christmas morning to all my dear readers!   You have been a gift to me this year and I have loved your feedback and criticism as I’ve followed through on my personal promise to share my passion for writing with other people, not just a folder in the back of my desk drawer.  As I begin my Christmas post, please accept my Thank-You Note for making time in your busy days to stop by and visit me.  May your Christmas be filled with Love, and may surprising gifts get your attention so that you know you are truly blessed.

As Christmas has approached this year, I have been aware of the many changes taking place in my own life.  Each of us has these, no matter what our age might be; and if we find them challenging, then adding in a holiday with expectations of joy can lead us to feel less than adequate for the celebration.  What a gift this Christmas to discover that Carlos Castaneda was a Christmas baby.  What a gift to read his perspective on how to be happy.

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy.  The amount of work is the same.” I think about this in the midst of the changes this year, and I realize that what he says is true.

Our eldest son has not come from Atlanta with his family this Christmas.  I can be miserable because I would like to be with them and share my homemade Christmas with them.  I can be miserable because I am leaving behind the days when the magic of Christmas seen through the eyes of little children filled our house.  Or I can be thankful that they will experience that same sort of magic this year in their own home, and see Christmas through the eyes of their own little boys.  I can celebrate the wonder of the connection that caused Max and Lauren to decide that Santa would bring a large tree — all decorated — while the boys slept.  I can celebrate the knowing that I planted traditions in my son, focus on watching them be carried on, and accept it as a gift this Christmas.

Our Christmas Eve gathering was small this year.  What used to be a large group of our children, their friends, and friends’ families now included only ten of us.  I can wonder where everyone has gone as life’s changes have occurred and feel sorry for myself that so few were able to come, or I can celebrate that we all have grown and that our lives have been reshaped by the growing up of children, the formation of new families, and the addition of grandchildren who call us to other celebrations when holidays come.  I will treasure the memories of years gone by and celebrate the way that the love we have shared has moved outward like ripples to places we only dreamed of back then; and I will accept it as a gift this Christmas that we have had so many people who have been a part of our life and continue to love us as we share our memories.

Now Christmas morning has arrived.  Mark and I sit here alone in a quiet house.  Echoes of the bare feet of children hurrying down the stairs to see whether Santa has come float in the air all around me.  There is no need this year to hurry ahead of them and light up the Christmas tree so that the magic will be complete.  There is no need to run downstairs and start the pot of coffee that will see us through the day that begins so early and goes on and on.  The Christmas muffins that the kids loved so much will be replaced by a more sedate breakfast of omelets and toast, eaten at our leisure after sleeping in.  I could sit today and feel sorry for myself, I suppose, wondering what my kids are doing with their own children or their in-laws this Christmas; or I could accept this quiet day as the gift it is and put the finishing touches on my plans for our gathering on the Sunday after Christmas when my children gather with us and share some time and love amid the gifts and food.  Granddaughter Lily spends one Christmas with her mother in Virginia and the next here with her father, our son.  I could be sad for the loss of spending Christmas Day with our family; but I will accept as a gift this Christmas the love that lets them all agree to meet on that Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  It is the one reliable day that we know Lily will be in town and our family will be complete.  I will also accept the gift of love that extends to each small member of our clan and  cares that one child will not be left out.

Whatever the changes, whatever the challenges you may be facing this Christmas day, it is my hope for each of you that you will choose to be happy rather than miserable.  Each choice requires energy.  It would be a shame to use all that energy and end up with a result we don’t desire.

Merry Christmas!