It’s that time of year again. December is rolling into January and as we wrap gifts, race to the post office, spend time with friends and family, we reflect on much of what happened in the year that’s about to close.
For those ‘A’ personality high-achiever types like me, it’s easy to focus on the haves: should have, could have or would have. The deals that should have come through but didn’t. The sales projections we could have made but missed. Or the assignment we would have gladly taken if only someone else didn’t beat us to it.
For the past two weeks, I have sat by my mother’s side in and out of hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units in South Florida. She had open heart surgery, which went well. But just hours after her discharge to a rehabilitation facility, she started sweating and couldn’t breathe as her heart began racing out of control and her blood pressure plummeted. A call to 911 saw paramedics there in moments, hooking her up to intravenous drips as the color drained from her face and portable monitors showed a near flat line while my father and I helplessly squeezed her hand in fear. A medic yelled “critical” and like an episode of ER, people in white jackets ran in and wheeled her away to the closest emergency room which fortunately was across the street. Later, doctors told us she had suffered from severe atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rate, and that the paramedics had saved her life.
Instead of fixating on what might have happened or could have happened, I’m trying to close out my year by focusing on what did happen. My mom is not out of danger, but she is here. I spent endless hours with my dad and while always close to him, I feel a greater connection than ever before. My husband and brothers reminded me of how wonderful they are and my boys exposed a soft supportive side that brought tears to my already blurry eyes.
Most of us will face difficult times in our lives. But the whirlwind holiday season which finds so many stressing over shopping, entertaining and gift giving should prompt us to turn our attention to the real gifts we receive every day. As 2011 comes to a close, my gift to you is a reminder to focus on the little moments that often hold more meaning than the big ones. When you get that big promotion, think about all the people and little things they did to help you along the way. When those big bills are tough to pay as they are for so many right now, try to concentrate on life’s little pleasures like family and good health. It won’t pay the bills, but it may provide comfort needed to help you through.
At this time last year, my husband had just lost both of his parents and my son’s best friend had been killed in an inexplicable devastating accident. It was hard to focus on anything positive, yet through those awful months my husband kept focusing us back to all of the good things the year had brought and how fortunate we were despite what had happened. The haves were also overwhelming. Was there anything else we should have thought about, could have done or would have said had we known the moment time would run out?
There is always something more you can say, so say it now. There is always something more you can do, so do it now. There is always something more you can give and the holiday season is the perfect time to act. People love gifts so by all means, give them. But when you do, take a moment to remember that our real gifts are each other.