By Pauline Reneaux
The holiday season is in the air, but in all honesty, retail establishments had snowmen next to pumpkins before the first frost hit the ground. We have traded our pumpkin spice in for peppermint mocha lattes. We are of good cheer … or are we?
I decided to name this piece Cultivating Cheer because it is not uncommon for this time of year to be challenging for people; some have lost love ones, some are alone, some have financial burdens or any number of other obstacles. So how do we do this? Depending on where you are in life at this moment, it would be very easy to just enjoy the lights on the homes in our neighborhoods and skip the holidays all together, so that is why approaching the holidays this way intrigues me.
Merriam-Webster defines cultivating as to foster the growth of. My family knows that we are facing some very challenging days ahead in 2019, so Cultivating Cheer … well, it has been a challenge. So how am I personally Cultivating Cheer this holiday season? I have always been a firm believer in the idea that when life tosses me lemons I can either make lemonade and buy lemon flavored desserts to share with others or have a sour attitude.
This past week, I watched the movie Christmas in Mississippi. Cenla’s own Faith Ford plays the part of a widow who is decorating for Christmas. When her grown daughter comes home, she tells her mom she does not have to go to such extremes to decorate. Faith’s character explains she is decorating for herself simply because she likes to do it. Last month I wrote about finding balance in my life, and I am doing this in a way that I have never known before. I am not creating and organizing to impress others. I am creating and organizing so that my little empty nest is a nest where I want to come home. Faith Ford’s movie really reiterated for me the idea that creating and decorating for the holidays is not about doing this for anyone else, it is about doing it for our own enjoyment.
In my own quest to cultivate cheer this holiday season, I will decorate because I love all things Hallmark and white twinkly lights. For me personally, I have always found that the best way to cultivate cheer is by creating things for others. Sometimes people know they are from me, sometimes they do not. Sometimes they are received graciously and sometimes I never know how they are received. When I do things for people, whether it is cooking a meal, making a gift, or simply sending them a God Wink book, I do not ever do these things expecting anything in return. My mom use to say that everyone deserves a happy every now and then and I find great joy in doing this. I have found that cultivating kindness, even if the recipient does not know who we are, cultivates cheer in our hearts and souls.
To cultivate cheer this holiday season, what if we send an anonymous gift to a friend that finds the holidays painful? What if we write a note to a colleague, friend or neighbor and tell them how much they mean to us or what an impact they may have had on our lives? What if we set up our little tree with the white lights and listen to festive music and not think of the things we have lost or the trying days ahead?
When we cultivate things we are helping them grow. When we smile, studies have shown that it helps lift the spirits of others. So I challenge you all to work on Cultivating Cheer this holiday season. You never know, it may help make this season bright for a multitude of people.
Until next year….
To learn more about Pauline Reneaux, visit her blog at Pauline-Reneaux.com. She welcomes email at firstname.lastname@example.org