When we came back to the suburbs from our lovely Thanksgiving weekend in the country, it was to find that some kind soul had raked our yard rather thoroughly and even taken the leaves away. I was immediately filled with gratitude and the Christmas Spirit! I didn't expect to feel even a little bit Christmasy this year. We are having terrible financial times, my nephew has discovered the horrible truth about who puts out all of those presents Christmas Eve (Hey, I still believe, Santa!), and my parents won't be joining us at Christmas for the first time since the niece and nephew were born.
Still, somehow, this year I have that old feeling back in a way I haven't for many years. I can't afford to buy presents this year so I'm having to make them. I thought this would make me feel bad, but it doesn't. I've got the car radios set to Christmas music and I'm going to bake a bunch of cookies tonight for the guys who work in the shop at my job. I know who does the real work around here.
I'm going to can some spiced apples and give them away as presents. Maybe I'll can some homemade cranberry sauce, too. I'm going to sew some potholders and make catnip mice from old baby socks and I think everything is going to be ok this year.
When I think of what I have to be grateful for, the list is so long. My cousin Beth is coming home from the hospital tomorrow. She had a brain hemorrhage three months ago and her recovery is a testament to her amazing will and strength. She and my 79 year old uncle will be taking care of each other for a while. I think this is beautiful. My marriage to Brenda remains strong in spite of our hard times, and I know we are together forever. My best friend is finally taking steps to make his life better, and I am so grateful to watch him as he pulls his head out and pulls himself together. My sister is facing difficult times with the end of her marriage, but she is handling it all with the grace and courage she displays always. It is inspiring to watch those around me make progress with themselves, and helps me want to do the same.
I've decided to somehow find some time to do some charity work. I haven't done any volunteering in years and it's overdue. There is a pet soup kitchen that started locally called Daffy's Pet Soup Kitchen. The founder, Daffy, has recently passed away. I'm planning to go to his funeral on Sunday and volunteer some time to their cause. I know first-hand how tough it can be to find money to feed your pets and buy their medications during tough times. In the spirit of Christmas, I'm finding my own ways of making things a little better.