I brought home teacher/administrator gifts for the boys to bring to school. I showed Andrew the little present I got for his bus driver. He said, “I don’t want to give her a present, she’s so mean.” I said, “maybe she could really use a present to make her happy?!” He grunted.

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This time of year can be an emotional time of the year. It can be full of excitement and joy or can consist of pain and hurt. Sometimes, both extremes can exist at the same time. The holidays are a wonderful time to be with family and watch the excitement consume everyone. It’s also a time that you feel loss or hurt more than ever.

I feel that sometimes we need to remember that more emphasis needs to be put on the joy and embracing what we are truly grateful for. I will admit that I’m not always an expert on gratitude and from time-to-time I need reminding as much as the next gal.

I started writing some thoughts about the anniversary of 12-14-12 for my post last week and changed my mind, throwing together a post at the last minute about something else. (I did write a post last year about my struggle with finding joy after the tragedy in Sandy Hook). Last Thursday, a few hours before my blog post, I was at my sons’ elementary school watching the kindergarten holiday concert. It was beyond fantastic and ridiculously adorable. I looked around at the school hallways filled with festive sites, listened to the joyful voices and saw the smiling faces and I was enchanted by the innocence and pure fun. Then, I had a fleeting moment where I had thoughts creeping into my mind about how a human being could walk into a school filled with such joy, children’s artwork on the wall and innocent little faces and open fire, killing these sweet beings. My eyes filled with tears and I reminded myself that we needed to embrace those joyful moments and not let the horrible ones win.

Within the next few days, I was overly aware of the attitudes of people at the mall. I overheard a woman tear apart a store clerk for something that seemed trivial. I saw a few drivers in parking lots honking or even driving RIDICULOUSLY fast in a parking lot filled with holiday shoppers without concern for others. I watched a few road rage reactions in my commute to and from work. It seems to me that there is a lot of frustration, stress and reactiveness out there.

I was starting to feel disappointed.

But I also witnessed many people in the mall making eye contact and saying “Happy Holidays.” I watched people let others go ahead in line, pick up clothes from racks and put them where they belonged. We made friends standing in a ridiculously slow line at Sears. I have watched many cars let others go in bumper-to-bumper traffic and actually patiently stopping for pedestrians.

I’ve reminded myself that the 2nd grouping of incidents brought a smile to my face and some warmth. Those moments made me stop my bitching about being at the mall on a crazy Saturday in December or my long commute to and from work.

I’ve focused on walking into my house after a long commute with calm and focus on the enjoyment of the time with my boys before bed rather than letting the frustration of the dinner-making, homework-finishing, bathtime/bedtime-fighting, elf-idea brainstorming evenings get the best of me.

I’m not whining about all of the teachers we need to provide gifts for, I’m enjoying the challenge of trying to find something for fantastic women who would protect my children if the situation ever arose.

I’m not focusing as much on who I can’t be with or talk to this holiday as much as I’m focusing on what I do have and who is here with me.

We live in a world where some people are bad but I believe that more people are good. Many, many of us won’t agree on 99% of things but we are still all human beings trying to find some joy where we can.

Happy Holidays everyone! May you find joy everywhere you can. And appreciate that some people may need you to help them find it!

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