“Choose. It’s all up to you, so choose.”

That was the bottom line to a conversation I had with a friend recently. The conversation was a seasonal one, and a typical one. It had to do with the coming of winter – the snow, the cold, the wind, and the darkness that comes earlier and earlier every day. Plus the crowded stores, the rush and crush of the holiday season, and the endless messages, everywhere you turn, to buy, buy, buy.

I reminded my friend about the peace and beauty of the season, about the delightful holiday shows and specials on TV at this time of year, and about focusing on the religious – rather than the commercial – aspect of Christmas.

My words fell on deaf ears, however. It was as if my friend and I were in two different worlds, looking at a completely different scenario and a different set of circumstances.

That’s when it really hit me that it’s our viewpoint, rather than the view itself, that determines what we see and how we see it.

This certainly isn’t an original idea, or exclusive to winter and the holiday season. But it can grow to significant proportions when we look at not just the trappings and traditions of this time of year, but how we feel about them. For some people, hosting family and friends for a holiday celebration is a joy they look forward to every year. For others it is a dreaded responsibility. Some people are energized by the Christmas music and Salvation Army bells, the brisk, crisp air, and the festive decorations they see while shopping for the perfect gift for everyone on their list. Others get a headache just thinking about it all. To some people, December is about “Joy to the World.” To others, “Bah, humbug” sums it up.

It may seem that we have no control over the holiday tasks and obligations we’re faced with at this time of year, but the truth is that we choose whether or not to take part in them, and we can choose whether we’ll be merry or miserable because of them. Choices can be difficult to make, and attitudes can be difficult to change. But they get a little easier when we simply realize we have the power to do so.

It occurred to me that I needed to follow my own advice when I realized how often I was complaining about the people who always complain about the holiday season. Without even noticing it, I was choosing to listen to their negativity, and was countering it with my own.

Since my attitude is all up to me, I chose to change it, and to focus only on the joy, the festivity, the goodness and light that come in this darkest month of the year.

So expect to see me smiling and singing throughout the holiday season, whether I’m bundling up against the cold, watching my favorite holiday specials, or attending Mass on Christmas morning. That’s my choice.

What’s yours? Remember that it can be anything you want, because it’s all up to you. So choose.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 3, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

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