It all began with a dream

Somehow, this Christmas, giving gifts and receiving gifts was more fun than usual.
Small gifts and large. Expensive gifts and trifling gifts, as well as gifts from my closet.
The least expensive gift I gave was a small bag of sesame sticks. My husband loves them!
On the other hand, our son gave us something that has been on my long-term goals list for some time–a wood-burning stove for our basement fireplace, including installation.
My goal was to have a stove installed before the next ice storm hits and knocks out our electricity.
The most nostalgic gift was two framed pictures of Mrs. Biggles, my son’s Silver Sebright Bantam chicken. One for our son and one for us because smart, funny Mrs. Biggles lived with us during the last year of her life.
And the most fun gift I gave was an unworn “Secret Garden” jacket from my closet that my daughter had long coveted.
But my favourite gift of all was an envelope from my husband that said, “Roses for Marie, with love, Howard.” And miraculously, a dozen red roses with sprays of baby’s breath appeared on my side table.
Just what I asked for!
It all began with a dream. I was dozing in my La-Z-Boy recently when suddenly the room expanded, and I saw three four-foot fern-like plants at the far end of the room.
All three had beautiful red birds and red flowers among their leaves. Then I woke up–smiling!
I asked myself, “Why was I smiling?” Because before the dream, I had been quite despondent. Why the change?
Then I realized how much I miss seeing birds, flowers, and plants since I have vision problems. As a result, I told Santa all I wanted for Christmas was fresh flowers and a lamp.
Now I smile every time I notice the red, red roses by my chair. And, especially, when I turn my new spotlight on them to highlight their nuances.
This experience has made me aware how important it is to smile to yourself throughout the day. So when I feel good, I try to smile.
I consciously smile when “George” opens the kitchen door by himself (leaving the door open, of course) and marches in, proudly wagging his tail.
I smile when I see beauty: our Christmas poinsettia on the hearth; our Christmas tree, with its beautifully-lighted mother-of-pearl star.
I smile when Julie calls. Or when I think about our new neighbours, Al and Nadine–the only people who come through our sliding patio door.
And they come often. Bringing pears from their tree in the summer and Christmas gifts in the winter–delicious snack mixes from Nadine and a hand-crafted candleholder turned on Al’s lathe.
There are lots of reasons to smile. A piece of toast with melting butter, an e-mail from a cousin, wild geese flying over, a job well-done, a grandchild toddling, a Lindor dark chocolate truffle. The list goes on.
Remember, the physical act of smiling makes you feel better and more positive. Yes, smiling to yourself makes a world of difference!
Try it today!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at