Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

January 2, 2010



Box up the ornaments and welcome the New Year


          Christmas has come and gone. No more eager anticipation to find out what was in the big box under the tree. No more frantic searching for just the right gift. The grandkids have returned home with their loot from Santa. No more cooking for a big meal for awhile. A little peace and quiet will help us recover from the inevitable tension of a large family gathering. 

        The clean-up ritual is familiar. Take the ornaments off the tree. Store the wreath and all the snowmen, reindeer, angels, and the candles. Wind up the strings of lights carefully so they will not be in a royal tangle next Christmas. Take special care in boxing up the lovely village scene that has adorned the piano during the holidays.

        At our house all this begins the day after Christmas. When Miss Dean says it’s over, then it’s over. She is a terrific decorator. She knows just where to put the crèche, the snowmen, Santa and his sleigh, and four dozen other Christmas items. Angels are everywhere; she loves angels of all shapes and sizes.

        Yet as soon as Christmas is past, she wastes no time restoring our home to its usual décor. She moves on. None of our decorations are in sight on New Year’s Day. I like that about her. She prepares well for Christmas. We enjoy it. We share its joy and meaning with our family and our friends, especially our grandchildren. Then we move on, adjusting quickly to the excitement of whatever is next.

        Within a couple of days after Christmas, Dean’s focus is on how we will celebrate New Year’s Day. She cooks black-eyed peas and a good meal that we share with some of the family. She suggests things we can do together next year, perhaps sharing the reading of a daily devotional guide. Never dull or boring, Dean is fun to be around because she is constantly thinking of new things to do, new places to go, and fun things to do together.

        In a nutshell, that is her secret formula for beating the Christmas blues. She has learned not to mope about the past. She may spill the milk occasionally but she never spends much time crying about it. As wonderful, or as difficult as the past may have been, Dean does not allow it to control the present day. For her the joy of living is not found in events but in relationships. Attitudes that afford joy today are more important than memories of yesterday.

        Dean is full of life and her exuberance spills out on everyone around her. She kids me about wanting a bigger diamond, but the truth is that she would rather make a child laugh than to own expensive jewelry.

That is another thing I really like about her – children cause her to come alive. She is never too tired to spend time with the grandchildren, and they enjoy being with her because she is full of surprises and fun to be around.

        I know Christmas is difficult for many people. But it is not an insurmountable problem. The secret is to find someone to love, someone with whom you can enjoy the little things in life, like simply being alive.

        Find someone like Dean who is fully alive and eager to experience whatever joy God will allow today, and enjoy it. Do not fret about what used to be; find joy in what is, and be thankful for it. Do not worry about what trouble tomorrow may bring. Live today, and choose to be truly alive every minute of it. Though we cannot always choose our circumstances we can choose our attitudes.

        Do your best to embrace positive, uplifting attitudes today and that will prepare you for whatever tomorrow may bring. Laugh as much and as often as you can. There is no better medicine than laughter. If you cannot think of anything to laugh about, then take a good look in the mirror. Just do not look too long; you may die laughing.

        By now you know my secret for victorious living. Yes, Dean is my secret weapon. As long as she is around, I simply try to pay attention, stay alert, and do my best to be fully alive every minute. She has more genuine enthusiasm than anyone I have ever known, and it is always spilling out on me. She taught me that “happiness is a choice” long before that idea became popular.

        The New Year will bring its share of pain and trouble. But I know that no matter what comes down the pike, Dean will find the courage to smile and welcome each new day with the expectation that God is with us and that His loving presence is all we need.

        The blahs cannot survive in the presence of someone who is fully alive, and full of faith in God. Enthusiasm, after all, simply means “filled with God.” As the old year ends and the New Year begins, I thank God for giving me a companion whose enthusiasm for life keeps me eager to be fully alive, moment by moment, day after day. +