Christmas is a season of joy, celebration, and wonder. Or of sadness, loneliness, abandonment.
My uncle turns 95 this December. He’s my other dad since I spent a lot of time in his house, and our families enjoyed many activities together. One tribute written about him states his continual attitude of wonder. It is so true about this Godly man born in December. He’s still learning, active in community events, and joyfully serves God and others.
I remember him and my dad sitting around the table with coffee and treats, talking about anything and everything. The location didn’t matter. Conversation flowed freely with disagreements, camaraderie, and laughter. Then, off they’d go on one project or another. Through the years, I’ve learned how unique this example has been. To me, it was normal. Two brothers—different and independent thinkers—who loved and accepted each other’s uniqueness.
God blessed me with a terrific dad and a fantastic second dad.
Both men taught me to wonder, be curious, and keep learning. Always.
But only some experience this heritage. And this heritage doesn’t prevent you from making poor choices or enduring hardships.
When my life went off the rails several years ago, I couldn’t blame my heritage. I wasn’t neglected. I knew I was loved and accepted. Yet even this wholesome upbringing didn’t protect me from others’ evil intentions and my stubborn choices.
Instead, I had to face my choices and the choices of others to do harm.
That first Christmas during the off-the-rails season didn’t hold wonder or awe.
No excitement or joy. It was a grit-your-teeth-and-get-through-it plodding. Like walking through a foot of shoe-sucking mud. Doesn’t that sound fun?
So, if you find yourself dreading Christmas and all your cheery family members, I get it.
If you feel like life has a vendetta against you, there’s hope to get through the season without imploding.
Do you find yourself wishing to spend Christmas anywhere but with your husband?
You can find wonder even in these circumstances.
1. Stop trying to create a Pinterest-worthy life or celebration.
Wonder doesn’t come from doing more. More tinsel, more lights, and more goodies won’t ignite your wonder. Too much stimulation can create a system shutdown. You can’t take it all in, so your brain quits trying.
Think about the first time you looked at something through a microscope. What were your thoughts and initial reactions? How did that view ignite your wonder?
Reduce your lofty expectations to what you can cope with today. I give you permission not to create the perfect life or celebration. Then move to the next step.
2. Focus on the little things.
Grab your journal and think about what brings you joy at Christmas. Write these thoughts down in detail. What do you see?
I discover wonder when I slow down and see what’s there. It’s like watching a child notice presents under the tree or Christmas lights decorating a house. Look for the small things like a beautiful sunrise or sunset, discovering a flower hidden under dying leaves that struggles to bloom, receiving an unexpected package with a simple gift your friend knows will bring a smile, or opening a thoughtful handwritten card.
Spend thirty minutes a day staring out the window and dreaming. The most productive people in business practice the discipline of dreaming. When we allow our brains space to ponder, we unlock creativity. Need proof? How many times do ideas or answers to questions come while you’re taking a shower? Your brain continues to look for solutions when you let it wander and wonder.
Find joy and wonder in each day. It’s there if you look for it.
3. Quit the Grinch attitude.
You can kill your wonder by your attitude. Yes, your circumstances may be difficult, but you can still practice gratitude.
When I look back to the Christmas after our world imploded, I’m thankful for our new granddaughter that year. Her wonder ignited hope that life would improve one day. As gloomy as life felt, I smiled just watching her experience Christmas.
My counselor and coaches encouraged me to look for something good every day. Journaling my thoughts and feelings allowed me a safe place to process the confusion, pain, and questions. Just because I felt blah didn’t mean I had to push that on everyone else. I didn’t handle things well at all.
Being Grinch-like hurt me and others. And that attitude only depressed me more. But, when I could look past my pain and confusion, I discovered moments of delight and joy. God tells us that “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health.” I felt better when I curbed my grumpy attitude to wonder about something intentionally. Even the simple act of smiling lifted my spirits.
This Christmas, how would you rate your ability to wonder?
Should I be blessed with longevity like my uncle, I pray God gives me the wide-eyed wonder of a toddler. How about you?
I hope this Christmas you choose to wonder.
Open your eyes and see the good around you. It’s there, even if overshadowed by the difficult or painful. Give yourself the gift of wonder.
Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore.
There is always something to make you wonder in the
shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.