Wow. Today is the first day of December and I'm still trying to figure out where the first 11 months of 2013 went. It amazes me how quickly time goes by these days. I think it's a symptom of old age.
My family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It started out at 7:00am with us attending an Alcoholics Anonymous "Thanksgiving Gratitude Meeting." I'm so grateful that my son invited us to accompany him to this open meeting for the second year in a row. Words cannot express how moving this gathering was. A couple of hundred people in one room, a microphone being passed around, and everyone taking a minute to express their gratitude. There's really nothing like it.
Afterwards, we came home and I cooked a big Turkey Day meal that my mom and two of my siblings came over and shared with us. (In the interest of full disclosure, I cooked everything except the mashed potatoes. My wife is the mashed potatoes expert.)
I suppose now all of the attention shifts to Christmas, which will be here before we know it. I'm not sure how much gift-giving will take place in my family this year. Everyone seems to have enough "stuff." I think making charitable donations in honor of the people we care about might be the way to go. There are so many people out there who are more in need than we are.
It's funny. I remember making long Christmas lists when I was a kid. Going through the Sears catalog, looking at the toys and sports equipment, and neatly writing out everything I wanted to see under the tree on Christmas morning. Those are great memories and I remember the joy I felt just making those lists. It didn't really matter if I got everything I asked for. In fact, I never expected to. But the anticipation of getting just some of the things I wanted was so exhilarating.
Fast forward to this year. My Christmas list for 2013 will be exactly the same as my Christmas list for 2012: There will be nothing on it. For the second consecutive year, there isn't anything I want or need. My older son is clean and sober. My younger son is at a school that fits his needs. I have the most incredible wife in the world. My mom, who is 82 going on 52, is healthy and full of energy. My siblings are great. And our three cats, who are a huge part of the family, bring us such happiness.
I am grateful for all that I have in my life. A new TV, an iPad, or a new pair of gloves isn't going to make me any more grateful. Life isn't about how much stuff or money you have. It's about the people you have in your life and the love you have for each other. It's about what you do to help other people. It's about being yourself and not trying to live up to the expectations that other people and society in general have for you.
Try to remember that this holiday season and you might just feel a little bit more joy than usual.
"Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are." --Marianne Williamson