The Attitude of the Heart

I had a bad attitude yesterday, and I knew it. I just couldn’t seem to talk myself out of it. In fact, I think I had had a bad attitude for a week, and I was irritated. I know better.

My sister was on her way to visit with her three kids, and I wondered if I could even enjoy the visit. I talked to my husband about it. “You know,” I said, “she is driving five hours to get here and staying the night away from her husband. You’d think I could appreciate the effort.”

Now my husband is, I think, quiet as men go. He is one of the rare breed who doesn’t talk unless he has something to say. This is what he said:

“You know I never had a relationship with my father.” (His dad died two years ago.) “And I am so grateful to have one with our son that I don’t think I really have expectations for it. Anything is better than nothing.”

He was right. As usual. The problem was my expectations. And fortunately his comment, although it sort of felt like a slap in the face, was enough to help me adjust my attitude before my sister arrived.

We took her and her three kids to see The Chronicles of Narnia. My niece, who is five, sat on my lap for the whole movie. She grabbed my arms and wrapped them around herself when the “bad dogs” were harassing the children. She used my hands to cover her eyes when the White Witch killed Aslan, whispering to me to tell her when it was safe to look again. She turned to me during the battle and said, “Aunt Becky, the good guys are going to win. Aren’t they?” It was the second time I had seen the movie, and I liked it both times, but how different it was to see it through her eyes.

After a dinner out, we toured the lights here in town. Now the publicity says that there are two and a half million lights. I don’t know who counted them, but there are a lot, and they stretch out for over a mile. My favorite is the display of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” but there are a lot of good ones, including Old Town Marion and of course, the dinosaurs. (I guess that’s prehistoric Marion.) The display is nice, too, because you can drive through it.

As we left, my sister’s oldest, who is ten, said, “Sometimes the prettiest things about Christmas are at night, aren’t they? Especially here in Marion.”

Thank God I had an attitude adjustment so I could hear that!

Tomorrow and on Christmas, I will still wish that my loved ones were close. But I will be glad I saw my sister and her kids. I will be thankful that my daughter is singing again. My heart will be with her, even if I cannot. I will be glad that my eighty-year-old father is still here and singing (albeit in a different choir than my daughter). And my son and daughter-in-law, who manage three jobs between them, will be setting a good example for their sons as they give of their musical talents at their church in yet another city.

Briefly, I lost sight of the fact that Christmas is not about the gifts. It is about the giving. And just that first Christmas gift of the Christ child that many people did not have the eyes to see, I was missing the gifts that I have.


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December 2005
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