I’m SO tired.
It’s so COLD outside.
It’s CLOUDY. Where is the SUN?
I have ZERO energy. HOW am I going to GET THROUGH today?
This. Day. Is. A. WRITE-OFF.
Or I thought it was, until I crossed paths with a Salvation Army bell ringer.
I went into the store with a foul mood. I came out of the store with a new perspective.
As I strode through the exit her voice cut the cold crisp air.
“Don’t let ANYBODY steal your JOY today!”
Like a beacon of holiday cheer, she drew people toward her as she greeted every single person in sight. Kids, families, ladies, gentlemen. Everyone.
“How you doin’ today, baby girl?”
“Hello! Are you smilin’ today, young man?”
“Happy Thanksgiving! Merry, Merry Christmas!”
“Happy HolllliDAYs! Let’s celebrate!”
“Hello, madam! You have a great day today!”
Every person got the same cheerful attention whether they dropped coins in the kettle or not. The ones who did donate got an extra word or two of happiness.
I was juggling bags and it wasn’t easy to get into my purse as I was leaving the store, but I actually put my groceries in my car, gathered up loose change and some dollar bills and walked back to drop them in the kettle. And to soak in another dose of sunshine. Our conversation went like this.
“Thank you, young lady!! Don’t you let anybody steal your JOY today!!”
“I won’t! You do the same!”
“Oh, believe me, I won’t. I may have bad days tomorrow, but NOT toooDAY! Happy Holiiiidaaaays!”
I walked back to my car grinning from ear to ear. That woman had turned my day around with one sentence.
Don’t let anybody steal your joy today. I realized that includes yourself. It is so easy to steal your own joy unintentionally.
It’s so easy to let the inconveniences of life, the bitterly cold winter weather, the crabby stranger in the check-out line, or your ever-lengthening to do list crowd your mind into forgetting how lucky you are to have a warm home that greets you when you come in from the cold, that you and the crabby stranger in the check-out line will soon be parting ways, to be needed so much that you have to make a list to remember everything. We forget that the sun is still shining behind the clouds, whether we can see it or not.
We are all going to have bad days. Some days are really bad. Sometimes those bad days string together into weeks or months that try your patience and test your will. But no day should be written off as a waste. Any day that you are breathing and your heart is beating is not a waste.
Even on a bad day you can find at least one small thing to be grateful for.
So this Thanksgiving week, though there are many things I am thankful for on a daily basis, I will name one thing I am thankful for today.
I am thankful I am able to take a long walk to clear my mind and appreciate nature.
That day I was so tired? That day it was so cold and cloudy? That day I had zero energy?
I did not write that day off after all.
I laced up my sneakers, bundled up and hit the pavement.
I am thankful I’m healthy enough to inhale deep breaths of clean, crisp, fresh air. My limbs are strong and able to carry me around the trails. Okay, my knee does occasionally give out, but I can usually make it a couple of miles first.
I am thankful for the beautiful trees and the thin layer of snow dusting the grass. The outdoors is a gift. The depth of the sky reminds you the world is bigger than yourself.
That day that started with me questioning how to just get through it, ended with a reminder that that’s not the point.
The next hour was not given to you to be trudged through so you can make it to some magic hour in the future where your life will begin and everything will be perfect.
The next hour was given to you to be noticed and enjoyed and lived.
Perfect or imperfect it is yours and it is a gift.