My husband and I always put up the artificial Christmas tree in our living room on the weekend after Thanksgiving and we usually leave it up through the first week in January. That means that each year, the tree is in our living room for at least six weeks. It’s a beautiful tree, lit with old-fashioned bulb lights (I finally found a few sets that work) and loaded with antique ornaments. Still, almost every day I find it necessary to make some small adjustment: an ornament moved to a “better” spot, a green light swapped for a red, a branch tweaked an inch or so to the left. Because no matter how pretty my Christmas tree may be, whenever I look at it, I somehow manage to see some small imperfection that needs to be “fixed.”
Sadly, my habit of focusing on the negative extends far beyond Christmas decorating. Sometimes the animal shelter where I volunteer is very full of dogs, and occasionally there are days when we don’t have enough people to get them all out for their daily walk. And when that happens, I don’t head home from my volunteer shift feeling good about all the dogs that I did help that day. Instead, I fret about the dogs that I wasn’t able to walk, and often end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.
The same thing even happens with my blog. If a particular post gets 200 views and 43 likes, I am usually quite happy with that, at least for a little while. But then (and I’m almost ashamed to admit this) I often start to wonder just exactly why those other 157 people who viewed my post didn’t like it. Which is just ridiculous, especially when I remember that when I started my blog I didn’t think I’d ever reach 200 followers, much less write a post that had that many views.
Of course I am very aware of all that is positive, beautiful and good in my life, and I do appreciate it. I really do. It’s just that I have this annoying habit of paying far too much attention to the things that aren’t going right, to the goals that I’m not able to accomplish, and to all those minor imperfections that are a normal part of everyone’s life. And I really, really, want to stop doing that.
My husband and I just spent an unhappy couple of hours stringing some mini lights on the real Christmas tree that we put up in our basement family room. We decided to try mini lights this year because they stay cool and are light-weight enough for this tree’s delicate branches, but I found them hard to work with because they don’t have clips to hold them in place. We also had to replace an insanely tiny fuse and run back to the store for another strand. Soon, we will hang the ornaments, and if I win the argument with my husband this year, we might even add some tinsel.
I am quite sure that the finished result won’t be perfect. But I am equally sure that when we are done decorating this tree, it will be beautiful. And I have made a solemn promise to myself that when I look at that tree, all I am going to notice is the beauty. It may seem like a small thing, but I’ve got to start somewhere.