Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bitter? Or Better?


Sometimes Tom and I have spoken over the phone to old acquaintances and after their dire predictions, lists of complaints and general gloom they spread, I've looked at Tom and said, "If I ever become like that, you have my permission to shoot me."

Some days I pause and ask myself, "Am I becoming bitter or better?"

This month for example... I know I've become better about receiving Christmas cards. You should have seen me years ago each December.

No, I'm glad you didn't. I mean, I would mail out my Christmas cards (with handwritten notes and tiny surprises) early and then day after day I'd trudge outside into a cold, wintry blast of snow to our mailbox where it seemed, inside, an even icier blast would slap me because there would, generally, be no Christmas cards until, like--can you believe it--three measly days before Christmas.

And because those were the days when I based my happiness upon the mail I received, if my dearest friends signed only their names to the card or sent a long, type-written page of brag--, uhm,memories, well, I'd frown and fume and be totally, totally blown away.

That, my friend, is called becoming bitter. Not better.

But now? Now I'm one happy Christmas camper. I mean, each year I sign-up on two Christmas card exchange lists from my favorite online groups, and those ladies keep the cards coming in a regular flow all month long, giving me my Christmas card fix. Not to mention the cards I receive from other online friends I've made over the years.

As for the simply-signed cards or long-missives-but-no-personal-message from old friends three days before Christmas? Heck, I love them all--now. I've come to realize that people are different... that I need to give them the freedom to be themselves and to do the best they can. And somewhere along the way I even began sending out my own type-written letters and wonder of wonders, I love every similar letter I receive, no matter how long, how braggy or how fine the print (definitely some God-made changes there!).

But the biggest change I've seen in myself is this: When I stopped trying to get from people what only God, Himself, could give me, I began to relax and just accept people as they are. Probably because for the first time, I could finally accept myself as I am since God accepts me as I am, too (something I never quite could believe before).

And now each year I'm accepting December and Christmas, itself, in a whole more kindly manner.

And that is better. Not bitter.

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