Recently a news report came out that New York came in dead last among all states on a "happiness" measure for its residents. Granted the depressed economy and crippling unemployment rate gives folks much less to be happy about this holiday season.
Which made me think about the purpose of Chanuka or Christmas or Kwanza or Ramadan or whatever year end celebration people engage in. The purpose is not to get up at 3am to line up in the dark of night while shivering in jammies waiting to get the limited supply of cheap electronics on sale. Nor is it to stuff one's cheeks silly at office parties or social gathering. Nor should it be about how much to buy or how many lights can be wrapped around a freshly chopped or synthetic tree.
Rather it should be a time to reflect upon how much was gained, lost or squandered during the year past. Friendships gained. Opportunities lost. Good will squandered. We all have had our share of one, if not all of the above. If we focus too much upon one at the expense of the others we lose sight on a true perspective. One single act of despair shouldn't overweigh a year's worth of kindness. Nor should a poor lapse in judgment destroy a lifetime of good deeds.
I chose to evaluate the relative progress of my personal year through the lens of an unexpected act of generousity. Presents from those we expect gifts from are welcome but hardly remarkable. We expect relatives to give to us as we give to them. Its the unexpected kindness that is the hallmark to end a tumultuous year. Today an Angel visited me at work and bestowed unto me a gift of velvet red cheer wrapped in a bow of peppermint candy. Unexpected, certainly a delight and to me a sign that despite the ups and downs of a challenging year, I have much to be thankful for this memorable Christmas.