Hope all of you had a splendid Christmas, or whatever you may celebrate during this time of year. I say that because, of course, not everyone celebrates Christmas. Reminds me of a nice conversation I had a few years ago with a very good friend of mine who happens to be a Muslim. We were together during one of those Holiday Dinners our employer set up for us each year. I was fortunate to be able to sit next to him, which was great because he lives in Canada; and although we talked on the phone regularly we rarely saw each other live and in color.
“Does Santa come to your house?” I asked whimsically.
He chuckled and said, “I’ll be getting a few gifts while I’m here.”
Hey, last I checked, Santa was nondenominational! I’m grateful for the tolerance I was given when I was very young. My parents were very adamant that we treat people of all colors and creeds with respect. This attitude later brought me into contact with a beautiful, like-minded young woman when each of us were the ripe old age of 17. She allowed me to marry her two years later!! As we look back on our 50 years of wedded bliss, we find ourselves grateful that we raised “colorblind” kids who are keenly aware that we have absolutely no right to judge a person based on what color their skin is, who they choose to love, or how (or whether) they pray.
We’re grateful for a lot of things, and believe it or not we verbalize it pretty much every day. Sometimes we say it mockingly by uttering, “we are spoiled Americans.” But it’s true you know. Most of the time we’ll say “we are so fortunate,” or “thank you God for everything.” I dare say that anyone who is reading this is also spoiled to some degree. God bless those who are suffering from poverty, hunger, war, etc. Our family has been pretty much insulated from all these. We are blessed.
So here comes 2024, for cryin’ out loud!! Where did the time go?? Over the past few weeks my beautiful girlfriend and I have been reminiscing about days past…
“Honey, do you realize that this Christmas is our 50th?” I mentioned recently. “Oh my!!” she replied. “Well, you know what frogs say… time’s fun when you’re having flies!!” I quipped. And fly it does; and the older we get the faster it seems to zip along. That’s why we’re both trying to make as many pleasant memories as we can these days. Negativity often plagued in our early years… that’s just not the case with us anymore. In spite of some rather significant health challenges, negativity rarely rears its ugly head now. And I can’t remember the last time we pissed each other off!! We pretty much literally grew up together; and we’ve learned that negativity is rather poisonous for the spirit.
We don’t like poison.
Do we get sad sometimes? Maybe even annoyed? Of course!! But we do our best not to wallow in the muck. Compared to oh so many, we are immeasurably blessed. However, it also takes conscious effort to “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative,” as the old song goes. As we stumble along on this journey we call life; we try to replace negative thoughts with positive or at least neutral ones. We try to seek out activities that feed the spirit. We go to therapy. And we have a host of like-minded friends whom we can contact for support. All these tools give us a better chance or connecting to The Great Spirit and receiving some peace; and sometimes we even get some guidance!
So I think that’s my New Years’ resolution for 2024. For several years, I’ve stuck to the same resolution: “Try to do better.” I’ll still keep that in the mix, but I really want to ring in the new year (and subsequent new years) on a positive note. I need to do my best to keep the negative nasties out of my head. Negativity is painful, and I don’t like pain. As the famous philosopher, Henny Youngman said, “I went to the doctor, (lifts up his arm) and I said, ‘Doctor, it hurts when I do this!!’ So the doctor says, ‘Don’t do that!!’” I love using that as a funny analogy, but It really has become that simple for me. When my serenity alarm goes off, I try to quickly figure out what’s wrong and do my best to moderate my reaction so I can stay on an even keel. Didn’t happen over night, believe me.
If I can succeed at all this mood management; I’m pretty sure I’ll really have a Happy New Year. Well pretty much anyway. Friends and family who know the health challenges we face often ask us, “How are you doing?” I usually respond tersely with “Doing OK.” Lately I’ve been adding, “Well let’s put it this way: most of the time we are content.” And we are.
My hope for all of you is that you are at least as blessed as we are. And May Our Creators (whoever they may be) bless all of you, and please; have a Happy New Year.
I’m sure gonna try.
Speaking of Henny Youngman…