Coming off the holiday season, I find myself thinking about gifts. I received some lovely gifts this year, including beautiful floral note cards, two fleece scarves, new business cards with my photo on them (a surprise that brought tears to my eyes), a Danforth Pewter photo frame, a gift certificate to our favorite restaurant, and bottles of fine wine from the company where our son-in-law works. I felt blessed.
But the real gift, I was reminded again, is time with people we love. Our two daughters (and son-in-law) live in San Francisco and Brooklyn, New York—-more than 2,500 miles apart. [The photograph you see here isn’t of our kids, of course, but I just couldn’t resist it.] When people say, as they often do, that those are great places to visit, I appreciate their optimism but cringe inside. As I see it, people who have one or more of their kids living nearby have won the true lottery, with even higher winnings if there happen to be grandkids in the picture. But ultimately my husband and I want only what is best for them, including where they live.
In December, our Brooklyn daughter was here for a full week and our California daughter and son-in-law were here for almost ten days. Although tasks related to my coaching business are often in the front of my mind, I made a firm decision this year to set it all aside and keep my focus on being with these fine young people. Whether taking walks together, preparing meals (it’s a given that when our kids are home, we go food shopping almost every day), enjoying a glass of wine, or just sitting around talking, I made sure to soak up every minute I could.
Once again, they are back on both coasts and my husband and I have returned to our normal routines and the life we enjoy. But I find myself going back, over and over, to our time together over the holidays. I deliberately flood my mind with images—even of shopping, which is not my favorite activity. For instance, I again look across the atrium at Briarwood Mall to picture, with a small rush of joy, our younger daughter waiting in the proverbially long line at Starbucks to place our order.
Early in February, I’ll be teaching a three-hour adult enrichment course over two consecutive Monday evenings on the topic of happiness. I believe that the experience of happiness takes both attention and effort. In my class, one of the topics I’ll cover is the conscious act of savoring the small moments in our lives that, when woven together, can be a source of deep and lasting satisfaction.
During 2012 may we each remember to savor and store away the many small moments of happiness that come our way. With that, I wish you all a happy new year.