It is a beautiful December afternoon and I should be crossing things off of my ever growing Christmas to-do list but chose instead to relax with a cup of coffee and my laptop. I have lived to celebrate almost 56 Christmas holidays and have learned this time of year is magical because somehow everything gets purchased, wrapped, sealed, mailed and cleaned whether I stress over it or breathe through it.
I glance at my Christmas tree adorned with red and white peppermint candy ornaments accompanied by the same in a beautiful turquoise shade. I smile at the red and white twinkling lights and once again think of my Mother and Aunt who no matter where they went always had small wrapped peppermint hard candy in their pocketbooks to share. In my mind I can see the both of them singing the Mary Poppins hit; A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.
Life has many twists and turns just like the peppermint candies. Our life has broken pieces but despite them we had a year filled with sweet memories. While we have not quite mastered this we are learning to relax, go with the flow and find peace.
My sister and I find ourselves reminiscing about Mom more often of late and the other day we spoke of how she always told us that in life you cannot make plans. Mom really shouted out that line back in December of 2010 when Kevin and I were planning a family celebration and for months we were booking the venue for a party, the invitations were sent and the cake was ordered and I was so excited as my family from Georgia were attending along with Kevin’s family and our friends. We were going to all be together. Well, the day the flights were to arrive was was the biggest blizzard New York city had in years. Luckily my sister was able to get the last flight in from Atlanta; but the party had many cancellations and we ate cake for over a week. We will not even discuss the difficulty my family had returning home. I think Kevin’s sister and family are still thawing out as they walked to the celebration. We all agreed with Mom, We Are Never Making Winter Plans Again!!!!!
Thinking back we can now laugh about the story. Going through the storm we all were stressed but just like the magic of Christmas it all worked out. Sadly we focused on all the things going “wrong” while in the storm. It is years later and we hear ourselves saying positive things like well at least you got a flight in and were here. It was a disappointing day as so many loved ones could not attend but we spent so much time being angry and crying and worrying that in some ways we missed out on the enjoyment of the event we spent so much time planning. If only I knew enough to relax.
As a child I used to love doing connect the dot and color by number puzzles. My pencil would follow the pattern from one number to the next and when I arrived at the last dot there would be an image to be colored with a recommended shade. By saying yes to many opportunities this year in many ways my life feels like a connect the dot puzzle. One thing led to the next and none of it was planned but it all just happened.
Through the years I disliked New Year’s Eve. I always felt frightened and anxious to look at another calendar filled with 365 square white boxes with no clue as to what experiences each one would represent. I was relieved to have one year over but it was nerve wracking to see a new one approaching.
This past year I realize how sad it is to have felt that way. What on earth is there to be scared about? I have my faith and by continuing to look up I do not have to fear what is to come. I now realize there is something far more powerful than me guiding my steps and with this knowledge it makes it much easier for me to relax. There are days when the next dot seems out of sync and some events make me shake my head in bewilderment but at those times it is the most important for me to quiet my mind, not over think and relax.
This coming year I am choosing to change my Mom’s mantra of not being able to make plans. My line starting December 31st will be if plan A does not work out there are 25 other letters to try and I am excited to know that I have 365 chances to test them all out.
I have celebrated far more Christmas holidays than I realistically have left. I now know to take moments to relax and enjoy the gifts of the present.
Oh how I laugh at the thought of how I used to think those wrapped peppermint candies in every pocketbook were so silly. In reality they were a delightful lesson. There will always be storms, things broken, endless to-do lists and confusion in life but remember a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.
It all gets done and things work out exactly as they are meant to.
Our wish for you is a Christmas filled with sweet memories and the hope to keep the faith as you begin the gift of 365 brand new boxes titled 2016. Find time to relax, trust and enjoy each present that awaits.
Editor’s Note: Visit AFL member Donna Ryan at her website: http://www.50plusstickingtogether.com/. She says, “I have always thrived on inspiration. I love reading it everywhere I can find it. I am 56 and it has been a journey with many twists and turns. I invite all 50+ women to join me in discussions on this second chapter. Our road ahead is fun and exciting because these truly are the best days of our lives.”