Tag Archives: Christmas

Sharing a *little* joy to brighten up this crazy winter

Hey, remember me?

It’s been awhile since I’ve written this column. Last August actually.

Sharing a *little* joy to brighten up this crazy winter

I suppose there’s several reasons for that. But it most likely hinges on the fact that my husband was hospitalized at the end of August. And sometimes a long road awaits patients following a hospital stay.

Such has been the case with us.

Since then, I haven’t felt much like writing. And when I do, everything seems a bit disingenuous. I wrote a post on my personal blog about the hospital experience last fall but felt it missed the mark.

During this time period, I’ve also been struggling with feeling much joy. Which is the point of this column after all.

December was pretty rough. I was experiencing feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, guilt, grief. One of the most joyous times of the year and I just wasn’t feeling it.

I enjoyed spending time with family at Christmas and New Year’s. Many great memories made. And lots of laughing.

But it seemed short-lived. I tried a lot of things to get out the funk I was in but the January blues seemed to be getting the best of me.

I started searching for ways to find joy and came across a speech given by Richard G. Scott, “Finding Joy in Life.”

Speaking of the difficulties we face on our journeys, he said: “A pebble held close to the eye appears to be a gigantic obstacle. Cast on the ground, it is seen in perspective.”

I was holding my pebble right up next to my eye. I was focused on myself and my problems and couldn’t see much of anything else.

He continued: “I know of a woman who was joyously happy. Each morning she would ask her Father in Heaven to lead her to someone she could help. That sincere prayer was answered time and again. The burdens of many were eased and their lives brightened.”

So what could I do to help others given my circumstances?

While in the shower one morning – where I get my best ideas – The Little Joy Project came to me.

Using social media for good, I’ve taken nature photos from my travels and added the word “joy” in tiny letters to each one. I scroll through my friends list until a name jumps out at me. Then on their wall, I post the picture along with “just stopping by your wall to leave you a *little* joy.”

It’s small and silly and pretty inconsequential.

But it’s also a spark. A tiny spark of joy (and I’m not talking about Marie Kondo, although I do love her tidying up principles).

All of those little sparks begin to add up to more and more joy. Until one day that pebble seems pretty far away. It’s still there but it’s not quite as overwhelming.

And the response to my little project has been fun, too.

“This is probably one of the best posts on my wall ever! Thanks!”

“Thank you kindly. I needed that today.”

“Love this!”

“Best thing ever!”

“That’s hilarious!”

“Thanks, I needed some joy today!”

I’m not easing anyone’s burdens like the woman who was joyously happy. But I do believe I’m adding a little sunshine.

And with the winter we’ve had, we could all use a little more of that.

By Jacki Wood, That they might have joy column, Nodaway News Leader, 2/28/19

‘It’s not how you start out that counts’

By Jacki Wood, That they might have joy column for the Nodaway News Leader

jackigrinch

I find myself feeling a bit cynical right after Thanksgiving each year.

I’m not sure why since it doesn’t make much sense logically. We spend time with family and give thanks as we kick off the holiday season and prepare for Christmas, a time of year that I love.

It might have something to do with Black Friday. I tried to go once with my mom and sister about 10 years ago. It was a disaster. I hated it so much and was so grumpy that we went back home before they were even done shopping.

Not judging here. It’s just not for me.

It might also have something to do with the expectations we perceive as the holidays approach. Having the perfect decorations, getting the best gifts, doing amazing activities with our children. Blah. Blah. Blah.

The commercialization of the holiday season in general contributes to my bah humbug attitude. Which is probably why I return each year to one of my favorite Christmas stories, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” by Dr. Seuss.

A bitter, nasty creature with a heart “two sizes too small,” the Grinch despises the people in Whoville as they merrily celebrate the season.

Annoyed, he decides to steal all of their presents, and even the tree, hoping to stop Christmas from coming.

But when the people awoke, they were not sad. Instead, the Grinch heard them singing.

“He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!

“Somehow or other, it came just the same!

“And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

“Stood puzzling and puzzling: ‘How could it be so?

“‘It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!’

“‘It came without packages, boxes or bags!’

“And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store.’

“‘Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!’”

In the end, the Grinch has a change of heart, which grows three sizes, and he enjoys the Christmas feast with the people in Whoville.

The story of the Grinch came about when Theodor Geisel, who wrote as Dr. Seuss, was looking in the mirror the day after Christmas and noticed a “very Grinch-ish countenance” in the mirror.

“So I wrote about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost,” he said.

Maybe it’s how the Grinch looks, or even his name, but many people just think of him as the villain and not the hero he turns out to be.

Geisel once received a letter from two brothers with the last name “Grinch.” They were being teased because of their name and asked him to change the character’s name.

His reply was that the Grinch was actually the hero of Christmas.

“He starts out as the villain,” he wrote to them. “But it’s not how you start out that counts.”

I love that. We all need that reminder. No matter what we’ve done, we can change our actions and our attitudes. It’s not too late to see what it is about Christmas that we’ve lost.

So if you’re like me, feeling a little Grinchy already this holiday season, it’s okay. We still have time to “rediscover Christmas.”

“It’s not how you start out that counts.” It’s where you go from here.