Choose joy, happiness this Christmas season

Last month, I bought an amaryllis bulb—a dried up, dead bulb.
But I planted it anyway, because I knew it would sprout and grow quickly to two feet tall. And then it would get four or five large scarlet blossoms just in time to comfort me at Christmas.
I began this ritual when my mother died on Nov. 17, 1985.
Her heart problems had flared up at the time; but she had always come back to health before. Nevertheless, my daughter stayed with her Saturday night just to check on her.
Then early Sunday morning, my daughter called and said, “Grandma collapsed and I’ve already called 911.”
I threw my clothes on and grabbed my purse. As I backed out of the driveway, I heard the sirens. The piercing, mournful sirens were coming for my mother.
She was dead when they arrived.
Earlier, I had bought an amaryllis bulb. I symbolically planted the bulb on the day of her funeral, knowing the brilliant flowers would bring us joy and hope on Christmas Day.
And then, I remembered another Christmas Day—27 years earlier.
It was about the same time of the year when my fun-loving, good-natured father died. And I was certain we would never be happy again.
Then on Christmas Day, we gathered in Jim and Roberta’s home in Rochester, N.Y. Roberta fixed a scrumptious meal with turkey and all the trimmings.
There were lots of gifts under the tree. In the afternoon, we sipped coffee and talked as we opened our gifts. And what fun we had with my mother’s first grandchild, who was six months old at the time.
We were all there together on that Christmas Day, supporting each other and trying very hard to enjoy the moment. It was a poignant day, but also a happy one. A day that I will treasure forever.
The memory of that day helped me look forward to Christmas, 1985 for I knew that the joy would come again. And the beautiful red amaryllis would help.
By the time we arrive this side of 60, we all have reason to be sad at Christmas. But on the other hand, we have reason to anticipate the joy of the season.
The Christmas season is full of paradoxes. Happiness and sadness. Turmoil and peace. Warm feelings and hurt ones. Loneliness and friendship. Heartache and joy.
And we must choose how we will experience Christmas.
So this year, why not choose happiness, peace, warm feelings, friendship, and joy.
Plant an amaryllis bulb or some tulip ones. Buy a lush red poinsettia for your hearth. Put up a Christmas tree—even a tabletop tree if you don’t have room for a full-sized one.
Focus on other people. Bake cookies for someone in a care facility. Invite a lonely person for Christmas dinner.
Rent some heart-warming Christmas videos, like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Miracle on 34th Street.” Listen to Christmas carols—even if they bring tears to your eyes.
And, however poignant your Christmas memories are, remember to engage fully in the present. Treasure the family and friends who join you this Christmas. Love, laugh, and celebrate.
Then let the magic of the season bring healing to your soul.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.
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