It’s been nine months since the freezing rains came.

At first, it was a fairyland as the coated trees sparkled in the sunshine—making me think of Robert Frost’s poem, “Birches.”
He describes our trees in the January ice storm: “Loaded with ice on a sunny winter morning/After a rain. They click upon themselves/As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured/As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
“Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells/Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust/Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away/you’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.”
But, unfortunately, the sun’s warmth didn’t come soon enough for our trees. The icy rain kept falling. The trees bent lower and lower, until they almost touched the ground. Then came the terrible crackling sounds of large branches—and even whole trees—falling to the ground.
Soon, the ice-coated electric lines began to fall. We lost power for one day, but lots of people were without electricity for a week in the frigid temperatures.
Among them was one of my friends from the pool. When her electricity came on, there was a power surge that ruined every appliance in her two-storey house—even her electric blanket.
Fortunately, she wasn’t under it at the time because the blanket was charred.
It seemed like a huge catastrophe. But then, I remembered the tsunami in Southeast Asia just a month earlier. Not only the trees were gone, but also more than 200,000 people and hundreds of thousands of homes.
Then, this fall, Katrina devastated New Orleans, and we heard stories about alligators, snakes, and dead people floating by the rescue boats.
After Katrina, it was Rita, then the 7.6 earthquake in Pakistan, and then Hurricane Wilma.
Remembering all this devastation, our ice storm seems minor in comparison. We have much to be grateful for. It’s all a matter of what we focus on.
“Noticing the Abundance” is an essay by Susan Jeffers in the book “Gratitude: A Way of Life” edited by Louise Hay. Jeffers writes, “When I worked with the poor in New York City, I was always amazed at the gratefulness in the hearts of so many who, in a material sense, had very little.
“They were grateful to be alive, to have food on their table, to enjoy the sun on a beautiful day . . . and to be contributing members of their community.”
On the other hand, Jeffers was amazed at the lack of gratefulness she saw in people who had so much.
“If you were to ask me which of the two were happier, without hesitation, I would say the poor with gratefulness in their hearts.”
If you want to be happy, Jeffers suggests you create a “Book of Abundance” and write down the wonderful things that happened to you each day before you go to bed.
The things don’t have to be “splashes of brilliance.” Just be grateful for the ordinary things—your car started, you were able to walk, someone paid you a compliment, you had hot water in your shower.
You’ll find that when you focus on the good things, the bad things won’t seem so bad.
So always remember, happiness is partly a matter of focus. Try it this holiday season.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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