As Christmas approaches, my thoughts take me back to my childhood. I loved getting up early Christmas morning to peek under the tree. I remember the thrill of noticing the milk and cookies we left out for Santa and the carrot we left for the reindeer were gone. When it came time to open gifts, excitement turned into delight – somehow Santa always knew exactly what I wanted. As a child, Christmas was a magical time, and although I still love the twinkle of lights, the family time and the fact I can still count on a mandarin orange in my stocking, my wish list has changed dramatically.
When it comes to gifts, my family and I are once again entertaining the usual question – do we exchange gifts or do we just get together, contribute a little food and drink and enjoy each other’s company? For some reason, this question took on a slightly heavier meaning for me this year. I’ve been thinking about it for several days now and have come to the conclusion that there is only one gift that would truly mean the world to me. The gift of time.
I realize this particular gift is not one that can be wrapped. I get the fact that I can’t ask for it with any real expectation of receiving it. It’s just that I know, no matter how big my plans are as I go forward in life, no matter what my dreams may be – none of it matters if I don’t have time.
Now is the time to be me. Today is the day to make confident choices. Everything I have to give, all that I hope to experience, the woman I strive to be and ultimately become – all starts now. For the first time in my life, I see the big picture.
As a young girl, I lived for the moment. The edges of time were distant, there was no sense of urgency to live life any differently. I hadn’t gone through enough to develop the keen sense of hearing necessary to notice the ticking in the background. Nonetheless, I was given more time.
I eventually got married. I vowed to love through sickness and health. I vowed (to myself) to be different than any other woman on the planet, to give all I could give and to be the kind of wife that would exceed expectations. It was this personal vow that would have the greatest impact in the years that followed. I was naive, blinded by love and completely oblivious to the game I was playing – more importantly, who I was playing it with. But once again, I was given more time.
I will soon be 49 years old. Things have changed; where there were two, there is now one. I’m starting over, but there are no pieces to pick up – the bomb that changed my life was of sufficient size so as to reduce everything to unrecognizable dust. It’s a dramatic way to put it, but it’s the best way I can describe it. And it’s important for me to use those words, to identify with the gravity of it, because it provides the necessary contrast as I look at my life now. My life. Two small, but beautiful words. Life as I know it now is the best part of the story, and yet it’s the one that creates the most emotion as I think about it. Gratitude is a powerful thing.
I made it. I’m here to talk about it, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I have a beautiful life, with a bucket list a mile long that seems to have appeared out of nowhere. I love that I have one; I love the excitement I feel at the thought of tackling it. It’s in this next chapter of life in particular that I hope for time. No more taking life for granted, no more living life for someone else.
I look forward to spending time with my family this Christmas – to me, it will always be a magical time of year. And every moment spent together is another chance to make memories, an opportunity to capture our signature silliness in photos and to enjoy the dry humor that is a recognized family trait. We may even choose to buy small gifts to tuck in each other’s stocking. However it goes, what matters most is that we’re together.
That doesn’t mean I won’t turn my stocking upside down at some point and give it a shake – you never know, the sands of time might be stuck in the toe.
Photo by Carol Good – all rights reserved