Jar of Joy
Let's face it. 2016 was filled with much pain and suffering. For us, we lost a cat that had been a part of our lives for over 18 years. Our house was broken into and many heirlooms and valuables were lost. My husband and I experienced the dirty side of identity theft. A childhood friend of mine lost her father to cancer. The deaths of many celebrities broke our hearts. Cities and towns all over the world were torn apart due to civil unrest. Many of us couldn't wait to flip our calendars over to 2017. But why? How do we know that 2017 will be any better? We don't. We can only hope. And that, my friend, is what keeps us going. Hope is the substance from which all living things arise, the spring from which we all drink; it is the element that helps us weather any storm. Even with all the grief thrown to us in 2016, there were moments of sparkle and shine. My younger daughter learned to swim competently. My older daughter tried out for her middle school basketball team and made it. My husband and I were blessed to host a religious gathering at our home, entertaining hundreds of people daily over a three-day period. The Cubs won the world series. West Africa became Ebola free. A woman was nominated for the first time to run for the highest United States office. Okay, so maybe that didn't end with glitter and sunshine... The year ahead will be interesting--the storms are coming, but there will be instances of quiet stillness and serenity. There will be rainbows and times when you want that light drizzle to caress your face. There will be laughter, and there will be hugs. These are the moments that you will not want to forget. As our country gets ready to turn its reigns over to a narcissistic, inexperienced, orange-faced, toupee-wearing, man-boy, let's continue to hope for the best. Even in the chaos, there will be a place of peace. To help my family and myself get through the challenges, I proposed a fun way that would help us focus on the positive memories. I call it the Jar of Joy and Hope. Each member of the family picks a color from a stack of post-it notes. At least once a week, but not more than once a day, we write down a memory of the day that made us happy, brought a smile to our face, or gave us hope. The note is folded tightly and placed it into the jar. If we cannot think of one thing at least by Sunday of each week, we are to jot down a wish or desire. At the end of the year, each member unfolds their own color-coded notes. To their surprise, they will be reminded of how much joy the year brought and how many of their dreams may have come true. Today, all four family members threw in our happy notes to get the jar started. Eva's notes are in purple, Norah's are yellow. My husband picked the blue stack of post-its, and I chose the red ones. This time next year, the jar should be full to the brim with messages of candlelight dinners in the midst of power outages. Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and safe 2017 to all!