Tis the season for optimism

I have always been an optimist and I am determined to remain optimistic, especially as we head into a new year.

I refuse to be part of the anger that has permeated the country this year. Regardless of the cause of people’s anger and frustration—political, financial, cultural—I will not take part and will rather be part the calming and soothing that is sorely needed.

What is the source of my optimsm? The source is my experience in and knowledge of the world. I firmly believe that a person doesn’t wake in the morning wondering how they can make another’s day horrible. We all have our daily lives to live which leaves little time to mess with someone else.

The saying that the best things in life are free is true and I wish everyone would subscribe to that view. It doesn’t cost a cent to be nice. It doesn’t cost a cent to offer a pleasant “Hello.” A smile goes a long way; it is wonderful to experience how that little gesture can be calming and disarm someone is mad at how the universe is treating them. A scowl is not the default expression of people; everyone wants to be happy and there no greater validation for us when we can bring a bit of sunshine into someone’s day.

These thoughts are prevalent this time of year. Messages conveyed in Christmas carols and holiday stories make us feel warm and sentimental. Peace on earth begins with each of us—that’s a powerful tool to have at your disposal.

This a time when we gather family and friends close to us. This holiday is a time to set aside disagreements and embrace those who mean the most to us. We cannot allow opportunities to show how we care for loved ones go by. I’d rather share stories and play games than rehash political arguments from 2020.

One of the greetings I offer during this season is: “May the joy of the holidays be yours throughout the new year.” It may sound like a generic Christmas card message, but when you think about it, it’s not. Just as world peace begins with each of us, the joy we experience during the year begins with us, as well. It is a matter of remembering. In a year such as we’ve experienced, remembering what brought us joy and happiness in the past is important. 

I am optimistic about the new year because I choose to be. “Don’t just stand there, do something!” will be fitting motto for 2021. Life is either something that happens to us or life is something we direct. I prefer to have some semblance of control. That includes how I react to people and situations. I will be polite and sincere and warm. I am optimistic that people will respond in kind.

I will await the new year, reveling in the holidays: I will be (at my) home for Christmas; a walnut sauce will be cooking on the stove (rather than chestnuts roasting); I will hear what you hear (non-stop carols) and my halls will be decked.

Tis the season of giving. I am more thrilled with what I can give rather than what I can receive. I have never returned a gift and I don’t make a list of what I ‘want.’ I am happy with whatever someone takes the time to choose, wrap and present. I don’t think of what I might get as a present…it’s a gift and I cherish it.

The new year will come soon enough. Life has changed. I can lament the change all I want but it won’t matter. Adaptation is the new normal. Some embrace progress, others don’t like change at all. I say, 2021, show us what you’ve got, I’m up for the challenge.

(Lyndon Zaitz is publisher of the Keizertimes.)