I’m never in a hurry to take my Christmas tree down. I just love sitting in my living room on a cold Winter’s night, basking in the warm glow of the soft, colored lights. The world seems to be a just a little more cheerful when I’m in the presence of a well-lit Christmas tree, and after the crazy year we’ve just endured, I’ve especially appreciated the comfortable coziness that it offers. But it’s been up for almost two months now, so I’ve finally hauled my ornament boxes out of the basement so I can pack everything away for next year. I can’t say I’m especially happy about it, but it’s time.
Thankfully, my Christmas tree isn’t the only thing in my life that provides comfort and cheer. Little things, such as reading a favorite book or sharing a delicious meal, always lift my spirits too. And then there are those special people who have the ability to light up even the darkest of times with their generosity, compassion, humor, and just plain goodness. They are the ones I turn to when I need help or advice, or even just a sympathetic ear. They seem to know just what to say to make an overwhelming situation manageable, and can make us laugh when we need it most. In short, they’re willing to shine their light into even the darkest corners of our lives, letting us see that maybe things aren’t quite so bad as we thought.
There was a time in my life when I thought that success was measured mainly in material things, like having a big house, a comfortable savings account and an impressive career. But I’m older now, and I’ve come to realize that “successful” living really isn’t about any of that. It’s about being the kind of person who makes a positive difference to others, and who manages to leave the world an even slightly better place than she found it. Or at least those are the people I admire the most these days.
The fact is we are only on this earth for a short period of time, and many of the people we love the most leave us far too soon. When we’re gone, we’re not really going to be remembered for how many awards we won or how much wealth we managed to accumulate. And we’re certainly not going to be remembered fondly for all the times we indulged in one-upmanship or petty bickering about religion or politics. It’s the times we helped someone who needed it, offered a friend a shoulder to cry on without judgement or shame, or just plain figured out a way to lighten someone’s load that will be our true legacy.
I have spent countless hours enjoying looking at my Christmas tree, but I couldn’t begin to tell you how many ornaments it has and I wouldn’t dream of comparing it’s beauty to any other tree. When it’s been taken down and no longer graces my living room, it’s the warm light of the tree that I miss and remember so fondly. Because ultimately, all that ever really matters is the light we shine on others.