Seeing the Good or Seeing the Greed – It’s All a Matter of Choice

I read an article by a published author I was familiar with. For the life of me I can’t remember who it was, where I read it or even the specific details (sorry, childbirth combined with motherhood with a little sleep deprivation thrown in will do that to you.) But I want to share with you the gist of the story. If anyone out there recognizes it (I read it in a November issue of some magazine) please tell me so I can give proper credit – and amend the details since I’m sure to get some things wrong. So, I’m paraphrasing here, and embellishing to fill in what I’ve forgotten but here is basic premise…….

A woman was on a bus ride to some major city out east (New York, Boston – I already told you I don’t remember). She wanted to relax, get work done (it doesn’t matter) but she was being distracted by a sweet, yet mildly annoying little girl. The girl was traveling with her grandmother. They were of modest means. She had pleasant conversation with them. The bus arrived at their destination and they parted ways.

But she realized she left her laptop behind. She went back. She couldn’t find it. The grandmother and granddaughter were still there and helped her look. To no avail. She filed a report and went on her un-merry way. Walking to her next destination she tried to hail a cab – difficult. The cab driver she gets is grumpy. She looks out to the street and it’s filthy. Is sanitation on strike? She sees bums and prostitutes. She wonders why in the world anyone would want to live in this horrid city.

Then she gets a call on her cell. Someone has found her laptop and turned it in. She races back to the bus depot or the home of the finder (I already told you I can’t remember the details – geez!) The grandmother and granddaughter found it. They recognized it when they saw a man holding it, walking away from the bus depot. The grandmother shouted, “Hey! That laptop isn’t yours.” Scared, the man dropped it and ran away. The author, grateful, tries to give her a reward. The grandmother won’t take it.

The author gets back in the cab, jubilant. She strikes up a friendly conversation with the cab driver. She looks out the window and sees how pretty the streets look decorated with Christmas lights. She notices the great variety of stores and is happy to see so many “Mom and Pop” shops still thriving. She sees a sweet family, pushing a stroller down the street. They look so happy to be living is such a wonderful city.

Perspective. We can create it. We can change it. Our moods can be dependant on it. Or we can shift perspective to dictate our mood. But it’s our choice. It truly is. The city hadn’t changed miraculously between losing her laptop and finding her laptop. Her perspective had. If it can shift that rapidly based on circumstance, it can shift just as quickly if we choose.

I used to be annoyed with how early Christmas items and decorations would appear in the stores. I cursed capitalism and greed. But somewhere along my life’s journey I started getting wrapped up (giggle) in the holiday momentum and I didn’t care how early it appeared.

Where I grew up there was a radio station that played a Christmas song every evening at 7:00pm to help keep the Christmas spirit alive all year long. I loved that idea! I no longer put away my Christmas cds (and it is quite the collection) because I listen to them all year round. As soon as the stores start putting up their Christmas decorations I notice a shift in people. I notice more smiles. Instead of good-bye, people say “Have a happy holiday!” Clerks and cashiers strike up conversation with “Are you ready for the holidays?” Invitations may appear in the mail. Friends keep me up to date with new pictures of the kids tucked in Christmas cards.

I’m reading many posts out there talking about how cranky everyone gets this time of year. How greedy stores are. How pushy and mean other shoppers can be. Honestly, I don’t see it. Really. We are now smack dab in the middle of the holiday rush and I haven’t seen one act of evil, one greedy advertisment, one cranky person. I’ve only witnessed cheerfulness and fun. I’m not saying the evil doesn’t exist. I just haven’t seen it. And maybe it’s because I choose not to see it. Frankly, I don’t want to know what the reason is. I just want to enjoy the bliss of not knowing.

I choose to enjoy this time of year. I choose to see the fun and the good. I see people helping each other. Our local soup kitchen always has an overflow of volunteers at this time of year. We have so many people offering help we actually turn people away. I see more smiles. I see joy in my children’s eyes anticipating the surprises ahead. I see the thrill my husband gets when he thinks he’s found the perfect gift for me and he can’t wait for me to open it. Church parking lots are more full with people remembering the reason why we’re celebrating. More people give money at this time of year.

It’s a time of giving. A time of sharing. A time of love. That’s what I choose to see during the holiday season. And the choice is all mine.

24 Comments

Filed under Be-Causes, Soapbox

24 responses to “Seeing the Good or Seeing the Greed – It’s All a Matter of Choice

  1. Great post and too true! I had a bunch of stuff that I was going to post in the comment, until I realized it would probably be best posted on my blog rather than mucking up your page. If I get that far today, I’ll link to you. :o) Have a great day!

  2. suzicate

    Perspective is everything! Amazing how one person’s bad mood affects everyone in a room. Yes, I was a cranky pants myself…think I was feeling bad because with grown kids the Christmas magic seemed to be gone. Now, I’ve found my Falala and plan on having a magical season after all!

  3. I get what you are saying about perspective and couldn’t agreee more. I’m jewish and married catholic. Growing up I did find that the holiday music would give me a much cheerier outlook on the holidays than it does now. Back then I wasn’t caught up in needing to buy gifts and do so much preparing. Hanukah is more of a holiday for kids than adults.

    Now that I help celebrate Xmas, I find the season very stressful. There is so much to do and so many oblications. Perhaps if I had grown up celebrating it, my stress level wouldn’t be so high and the cranky factor…a non factor.

    The season is beautiful, and once the 25th comes I’m able to enjoy the day. The days/weeks leading up to it…do me in though.

    • I’m prefacing this with “do as I say, not as I do” but I try really, really hard to limit the expectations on myself at this time of year so that I CAN enjoy this time. For instance, this weekend my son and I, quite spontaneously, decided to make Christmas cookies for friends. The old me would have had this on my to-do list (which would be a mile long) and it would be rushed and I wouldn’t let the kids help because I just “needed to get it done.” Since making cookies was an extra this year – my son and I had a blast; it was relaxed and we now have lots of cookies for friends. When you really think about it the expectations we put on ourselves aren’t critical – just wishes. So now, with such a pared down list of “must dos” I have time for things that are really extras.

  4. Jane, this post is the epitome of why I come here every day. No matter what the situation, you always seem able to put a positive spin on it. And you’re right – hard times or frustrations are often a matter of perspective. I admit that I’m not always good at seeing that and I let myself get wrapped up in a cycle of negativity. I think I’ll bookmark this post to revisit the next time my inner Grinch trumps my inner Santa!

  5. Well, Shit. How am I supposed to keep my crank on when you get all It’s a Wonderful Life on me–AND you make sense doing it?

    I loves ya, baby.

  6. HO, HO, HO!

    Grouchy?

    No, No, NO!

  7. yes! I think kids help a lot with this — they love any sign of Christmas so much, no matter how inappropriately early it appears. I’m going to do your thing with not putting the Christmas cds away — right now it always takes me too long to remember to get them out, and then we only get to listen to them for a couple of days. Another thing we did in my family (sister, brother-in-law, mom, dad) that’s really helped lower the stress level is stop buying for each other automatically — only getting something if it’s too perfect not to get. We focus the presents on the kid and the adults just enjoy being together. With cookies. And booze.

  8. Steven Harris

    We only see things the way WE are.

  9. Thank you so much for this reminder that, in many ways, important ways, perspective is up to us.

    What an incredible story.

  10. I’m with you on this one, it is all a matter of perspective and choice. I love this time of year and the longer it lasts, I am grateful. I see happy, fun, joyful and caring people all around me. It’s great. The best time of year!

  11. Thank you for having a “merry” attitude. If you are into retro movies, catch “Prancer” sometime this season. I think you will love it.

  12. unabridgedgirl

    Thanks, Jane. Great post.

  13. Indeed.
    Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you deal with it. People sometimes don’t realize that they are actually in control of their perspectives, their lives…
    -Jen

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this! I am not a huge fan of the Christmas machine (the consumerism, materialism, etc.) but I ADORE the holiday season – those few weeks out of the year when people are nice to each other and when cinnamon and glitter and paper rule. I too am trying to limit and lower my expectations, and am focusing hard on making the season memorable and fun for my children.

  15. Great point. I love this time of year when I’m less stressed. Which I’m not. But at least I don’t take it out on any one, well, except The Husband.
    I’ll get back to freaking out.

  16. Jane, this was an incredibly insightful post. I loved it, and I agree wholeheartedly with it. It’s ALL in the perception. We can look at the same thing, but come up with different opinions and emotions.
    That was a great story, and I’m going to try to remember this whenever things go “wrong” in the future.

  17. amberlife

    I used to work at a women’s refuge and spent half my time there reminding people about choices. There are some things that we have no control over, but there is so much that we do and sometimes, as you so rightly say, we have to change our perceptions. Like you, I love Christmas. It can be commercial if you let it be, but the thing I look forward to most is time spent with family and friends, fun and laughter and a glass of something to keep things lubricated. Throw in a spot of turkey, a nice roast potato and some gravy (no sprouts please) and I’m a happy girl. The best of the season to you and yours.

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