I know. I know ! Christmas is over. No more carols and tinsel and candy canes and shopping wrapping cooking, and all those hours spent stringing up lights…. And no more solicitations for needy kids and homeless pets and soldiers spending their holidays somewhere in a foreign desert…. Now it is time to get busy with New Year's Resolutions, and jogging, walking, running off all those extra pounds of fruitcake and eggnog and pumpkin spiced whatever…

So, how much joy was there in your celebrations this year? Did the baby in the manger bring you any peace? Were there any Holy nights? Angel choirs? Did you manage to “let nothing you dismay”? It seems to get more and more difficult to avoid the dismal any time of the year, much less during the holidays.

Junior's costume for the Christmas pageant. Driving Sissy to choir practice three extra times a week for a month to prep for the Christmas Cantata. Another lonely friend calls and wants to chat for an hour about all the mad/sad things going on in their life. Decide to take a well-deserved break. Fix a soothing cup of tea. Kick off your shoes, Flop down on the couch. Flip on the TV. Whether you surf up or down the channels, within mere minutes you are angry, jealous, depressed, or afraid. Or all of the above – another lunatic loose in the northern part of the county, another lunatic loose on Capitol Hill. Another wildfire, another sexual harassment lawsuit, another blizzard, another poisonous food recall, another child murdered by a parent. Crime rate – UP. Unemployment – UP. Divorce rate – UP. Inflation – UP. Suicide – UP. Fake News – UP. Medication prices – UP. Educational standards – DOWN. Moral/ethical standards – DOWN. Social Security benefits – DOWN. Help for veterans – DOWN. Morale at work – DOWN. Morale at home – DOWN.

So, just where, exactly, are we supposed to find this mythical, magical, mystical thing called joy ? We don't even hear the word much anymore except at Christmas or Easter. When was the last time you shouted with joy? When the Cubs won? Have you danced with joy lately? Do you sing with joy at church? No? Maybe that is the problem. We don't CHOOSE to be joyful. Let's make JOY our new year's resolution. Even if we don't sing with confidence, let's choose to sing. Even if we don't pray very well, let's choose to pray more often. Even when we would rather be having steak and lobster, let's choose to be grateful for beans and franks. Even when we'd rather be on the beach in Oahu, let's choose to be grateful for electric blankets and heated cars and hot soup. Let's write a little note to that lonely, talkative friend and invite them for coffee at the local coffee house to celebrate having made it through another year. Find a way to offer a compliment (or at least an encouraging word) to each of your kids at least once a week. Same for your spouse. Since it's inevitable that you will get a few wrinkles as time goes by, make certain they are smile wrinkles. Next time you bake cookies, double the recipe and then give half of them away. In other words, create your own joy. Pass it on. It will come back to you a hundredfold.

Peace [and JOY] BE WITH YOU !