When You Don't Feel Merry and Bright, Choose Grateful


Before sitting down to write this post I put on some cheery Christmas music. I figured I could at least simulate Merry and Bright with a little happy-happy Jingle Bells (like this awesome classic).

It didn't work.

Because this Christmas season I am not feeling very Merry and Bright. Military life has been dishing us out some real doozies lately in the circumstances-out-of-my-control department. My military bitterness inducing silliness from over here is just the very tip of an iceberg about which I cannot publicly write. If you knew you would want to give me a big hug, I promise. And you would not get down on me for being exhausted by it all.

My 4-year-old doesn't know about Christmastime Bummers. He only knows happy-happy-happy, Christmas lights, Santa Claus, parties,  presents, a "Jesus's birthday" cake and a trip to see his "Grammo." The task of keeping up appearances, if only for him,  is exhausting. We have memories to create here, folks. The idea of letting him down is enough to get me out the door to hunt for all the real live Christmas Joy I can get.

Maybe you're like me. Maybe military life has been slamming you, too. Maybe you're facing a solo Christmas thanks to deployment. Maybe you've recently lost a loved one. And maybe Merry and Bright isn't going to happen for you, either.

Over the last 20 days or so I've accepted that the kind of Christmas Joy for which I am searching is probably not going to be found. And since simply being down isn't an option either, I'm choosing something a little different this season.

I'm choosing Christmas Gratitude.

We often think of November as thankfulness time. But if Merry and Bright is escaping you this season like it is me, how about extending that into right now? Instead of looking for happy-happy-happy, let's count our blessings and being thankful for what we DO have.

Because I find that instead of that Christmastime happy high, blessing counting results in a joy that is different in caliber. Happy-happy Christmas Joy is based on circumstances. But Christmas Gratitude is based on attitude.

I am grateful for my healthy family, the roof I have over my head, the peace my faith gives me even in awful circumstances, my job, friends that have shown themselves to be true, the warmth of this space heater on my feet, and so much more.

And while it would be nice to claim both happy-happy joy this season AND those feelings of gratitude, "just" having gratitude is enough for me.

Merry Christmas.

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