Two windows look out on a snowy winter scene.

Getting Through The Holidays

As a kid, I loved the holidays. And what is not to like after a good night’s sleep and waking up the next morning to find a bunch of toys and gifts – many of which were for me.

Then it happened. The whispering and snickering of my friends proved to be true. Santa did not fly around the world in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and leaving gifts. And, horror of horror, it was not the Tooth Fairy who was leaving the many dimes and quarters under my pillow.

After recovering from the shock and trauma only a 9-year-old boy can experience, I slowly began to appreciate that the holidays are all about the family and friends, no matter your age.

A greater meaning

Today at age 77 and a 3x cancer survivor (twice with prostate cancer and more recently non-Hodgkin Lymphoma), the holidays have taken on even greater meaning.

As of this writing, my final chemo for the non-Hodgkin’s is scheduled for November 18, a few days prior to Thanksgiving. In many ways it should be an ideal timing, except that I will not know if the chemo worked until January of 2021 when my next PET scan will reveal if any “hot spots” remain. Our pastor reminded me that the long delay would give me more time to pray and trust in the Lord. Not quite sure how to react to that one.

The immediate thing I plan to be thankful for is to be done with four months of CHEMO. And the joy does not end there. By Christmas and New Year’s Eve, my thanks will include a wave goodbye to 2020. If you are like most folks, I suspect this year has been quite trying for you as well, given the many stresses caused by COVID.

Maintaining mental health

These days I embrace the holidays, which can be extremely happy for some, and at the same time grueling for others. In 2020 my family encountered a lot of rough patches. While we can choose to focus on the negatives, we decided to look forward to better times in 2021 and beyond.

In our home, we now refuse to embrace the negativity that sits outside our door or occasionally comes in via broadcast or social media. At the same time, we are not putting our heads in the sand. Rather, we are choosing to hold tight to the many positive and most routine things our lives have to offer.

Appreciating the small things

We smile more at our dog’s crazy antics or swell with joy over our grandchildren’s last report cards, or we simply sit back on a cold New England winter evening and enjoy the flames flickering in our wood stove.

Are these life-changing events? No, but when noticed and appreciated, they can and do bring a smile to our faces and inner joy to our hearts.

It is not easy to step back from negative news. At some point in life we all will face demons and fears. It is not the challenges in life that impact our moods. Rather, it is how we choose to view them.

Admiring the beauty around us

For fun, we put our Christmas decorations and lights up early this year. We made up some wreaths and now enjoy the scent of fresh-cut pine in home. What is not to like about that?

In closing, why not try this year to admire the beauty that surrounds us every day, versus saying, “I am just going to try to make it through the holidays.”

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