People are putting up Christmas trees and ordering hams. The supermarkets are gradually filling their shelves with anything and everything to do with Christmas and carols are being played on repeat. I love the idea of a Christmas that embodies peace and goodwill to all on earth, but for me, Christmas has developed into something that is so much bigger than that and it tends to make me melancholy. This morning, as I was pontificating my melancholy navel and telling myself to snap out of it, this gorgeous photo of Rissie popped up in my Facebook feed and I was reminded of a moment of pure joy.
I decided that Christmas for me this year would be about giving thanks and reminding myself of all my blessings.
My first blessing is the ability to feel joy. The photo that I mention was taken two years ago today when we were in Costa Rica. It was the Christmas fiesta in the mountain town of Atenas and we were watching a group of musicians performing in the streets. It was hot and muggy, and we had been teaching English to some young kids in the little community centre. Rissie was completely overtaken by the music and the performers and she jumped up and literally danced like she did not care if anyone was watching. It will always be one of my most precious memories. I can remember thinking, if only we could all live like that. With sheer joy and exuberance.
My second blessing is health. The fact that the kids and I have our health is something I am grateful for every single moment of every single day. When Archie and Rissie were 5 weeks old, their Dad was diagnosed with cancer. By the time they were 11 months old, they had, at the end of a pretty traumatic 10-month journey been diagnosed with MEN2A, which basically means they are predisposed to tumours in their endocrine glands. For a while, they became little pin-cushions and just before they turned three, tests revealed that there was cancer activity in their thyroid gland. Their thyroids were removed in a Sydney hospital and since then they are regularly tested for other activity. It used to be every 3 months, then 6 and now it is annually. I no longer feel sick to the stomach when we have their tests, I know that we will always face whatever is thrown our way. I just look at these two little people and am so grateful they are well and healthy and strong. And as for me, every morning that I walk in the post-dawn hours, I am grateful for legs that can stride, walk, explore and roam. When you have been told that walking was not going to be in your future, it is amazing how grateful you can be for every step you take.
My third blessing is the people that have taught me along the way, that happiness is a choice. Every day we wake up and have choices to make. Some days are harder than others, some moments can tear your heart out whole, but ultimately how we feel, how we react, how we survive and how we live, is our choice. Some look at a glass and see one that is half-full and say thank you for such a bounty. Others look at the same glass and see one that is almost empty, and they curse the heavens for a life that is so unfair and so cruel. Those special people, those life teachers, that have crossed my path, I thank you. Happiness is a choice and that is what I choose.
My fourth blessing is those living creatures that I love and adore and who fill my heart with song. Archie and Rissie, my fellow explorers who still smile a smile that is filled with delight. My animals. My soul food people. To all those I love. To those who know how my brain works and don’t judge me for it. To those who accept me just the way I am. To those who know that in me there exists a great potential for joy, along with a deep well of sadness. You make my heart sing and I will be eternally grateful.
My cup runneth over.
That little girl dancing her heart out in a small mountain Costa Rican town was a timely reminder of just how many things I am eternally grateful for.
I choose joy, I choose health, I choose happiness and I choose love.