“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens

Good morning everyone. I do hope each of you had a special Christmas filled with love, laughter, family and friends. And, especially filled with memories you will forever hold dear.

In reflecting about Christmas, I have so many wonderful memories of family members who are no longer living, but will always be with me in spirit. One of these special people was my grandmother. She was quite a lady, and I was so blessed to know and have her in my life.

On one of my summer visits to see my grandmother, at around 8 years old, she had a brightly colored Christmas ornament hanging in the window above her kitchen sink. Because of its bright colors, it immediately caught my attention. And, I asked her why she had the ornament hanging there as Christmas had long passed. I remember her words were, “Oh honey, I need that.”

Each year when my grandmother took down her little tree, she would always select one ornament she loved and hang it in her kitchen window. And, as she explained to me, the ornament served as a reminder to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in her heart. She further explained, how there are many events and people in our lives which test our patience daily. Such as: Days when we might not feel up to par, things that break down at the worst possible time or maybe someone who may not have been polite for absolutely no reason. She went to great lengths to explain about her ornament tradition and she ended her explanation with, “You see honey, when my patience is tested, if I look at that ornament, the spirit of Christmas once again fills my heart and I am reminded to be kind and tolerant.”

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There have been many years I have remembered to hang an ornament in my kitchen, and many years I have forgotten. But, this year, I have especially thought about my grandmother’s words and her ornament tradition. Perhaps, it is because our world seems to be filled with so much ugliness. It is often difficult for beauty and goodness to shine through. But our world is full of beauty and good, kind, wonderful people.

Well over a year ago, I made the decision to do everything in my power to spread light and beauty in my little corner of the world. Why, you might ask? Because, I deeply believe in the “ripple effect.” And, I know the power of beauty. Just imagine what might occur if each of us decided to spread light and kindness, which resulted in another person doing the same and on and on.  The ripple begins with the smallest stone.

We are on the brink of a New Year. Let’s make it a beautiful year. “Creating Beauty,” should be an absolute pleasure, not a burden and never a competition. When we live a beautiful life, we become a kinder and more peaceful people. And, we pass on kindness and peace to others.

Let’s clean up our communities and our homes, make them both sparkle and shine. Let’s plant gardens, help those in need and set examples for our youth. Let us be kind to one another and take a firm stand against the spreading of hate. For you see, anything of beauty is the exact opposite of hate.

So, I believe my grandmothers “special ornament tradition” may serve us all well in the year 2017. If we try to keep Christmas in our hearts, we will be better people. And, therefore, our world will benefit. We will have the desire to spread light and beauty. And, as Mary Oliver once said, “We need beauty because it makes us ache to be worthy of it.” So, which ornament will you hang?

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See You Soon,

Sandra

Author’s Note: Mary Oliver received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984.