I didn’t even need to put my shoes back on. I opened the sliding glass door and walked out, barefoot, to the backyard. I went over to the orange tree and picked a bowlful of oranges, then went back inside. Soon I was tasting what was literally the freshest orange juice I have ever had in my life. Then we opened a chilled bottle of champagne, and before long we were sipping on equally-fresh mimosas.

As you probably guessed, we weren’t in Minnesota anymore.

My husband and I flew to Florida to spend a long weekend with our daughter and son-in-law. Although we talk to them regularly on the phone, it had been way too long since we’d seen them in person. So after a few days of finishing off our Thanksgiving leftovers, we packed some warm-weather clothes in our suitcases and boarded a plane for Orlando.

We didn’t visit any theme parks on this trip, or make plans for any special outings or excursions while we were there. Our intention was just to spend time together and enjoy each other’s company. And that’s what we did.

In the morning, relaxing with coffee and conversation out on the patio or at the kitchen table, I thought again about how much I miss my daughter and her husband, and wished that we all lived closer to one another so we could see each other more regularly. But at the same time I realized that if we did, we probably wouldn’t share the kind of lazy, carefree time together that we were doing right now. The kind of time you spend when you’re on vacation, or with people you don’t get to see very often.

My son is out on his own, but he still lives in the Minneapolis area, and we see him and his girlfriend on a more frequent basis. We get together for birthdays and holidays, and at other times for no particular reason. But our times together rarely include mornings when we just sit around having coffee or orange juice, talking about our thoughts and views on life in general – or about nothing in particular except how nice it is to spend time together.

It occurred to me that this is a perfect example of the classic “Is-the-glass-half-full-or-half-empty” question. I could stay saddened by the fact that I don’t get to see my daughter as often as I’d like. Or I can cherish the time we do spend together simply because it is more rare and precious. I could regret that I don’t get to spend relaxing, lazy mornings with my son. Or I can enjoy not only our time together, but also the comfort of knowing it won’t be very long till I see him again.

How we choose to look at a situation really does influence how we feel about it. And the main thing to remember is that we do get to choose. So from now on, whenever I have a choice to make, I’m going to go with whichever one gives me cause to celebrate, rather than to mourn. Even if I can’t do so with a chilled bottle of champagne and the freshest orange juice I’ve ever had in my life.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 18, 2014.
©Betty Liedtke, 2014

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