I’ve been having trouble finding the Christmas spirit this year. I struggled a bit last year, but nothing like this. It’s been a tough year and it hasn’t left me with much in the way of magic feelings. I’ve pined away the days leading up to Christmas, feeling like the Grinch and lamenting my lack of internal joy. I’ve watched Christmas movies and cried, not because the content made me feel sentimental, but because I “used to” feel the joyful, nostalgic feelings expressed in the movies and this year I don’t. Well, at least I didn’t up until late last week. Late last week I had an appointment for a massage and I was whining to my massage therapist (there’s a reason they’re called therapists) about my lack of Christmas spirit when Nicole said to me, “Well, Debbie, I think the first thing you need to do is practice a little acceptance.” Acceptance? What the heck did that mean? She went on to say that perhaps I needed to just accept that the Christmas spirit thing just wasn’t happening for me this year. Just accept it; quit fighting it.
Immediately after my massage I went for my 52-minute walk (a minute a year) and I thought about what she’d said. I realized that I had, in fact, been enjoying the holiday activities happening outside of me – enjoying each as they were happening. However, leading up to each activity I stressed about my lack of holiday joy and following each activity I stressed about my lack of holiday joy. So, the majority of my time was spent worrying about this internal lack instead of appreciating those things that were going on around me. As I walked along the waterfront trail on an unusually cold, sunny day, I decided that I would focus on enjoying that which was happening around me and just accept that, internally, something was lacking. I enjoyed the sunshine and the crisp December air; I enjoyed the squirrel that ran across the path in front of me; I enjoyed waving to the engineer of the freight train that went by parallel to the trail. I thought about each of the holiday activities I had participated in this month and each that was to come and I enjoyed the thought of each of them. And do you know what happened? As I focused on enjoying and feeling grateful for the people and events external to me, I uncovered the joy inside of me. By the end of my walk I felt that my attitude had made a 180-degree turn. I’d gone from feeling like the Grinch to realizing that it is a wonderful life.