Today is Christmas Eve, but I can't tell by looking at my house.
The only decorating I did this year was to hang a fresh pine wreath on the front door. And I bought that only to help out a local animal rescue that was selling them. There is no Christmas tree, no ornaments or lights, no Christmas-themed things hanging on the walls or sitting out. I just don't have the spirit to decorate this year. And for the second year in a row, I didn't send Christmas cards, and my holiday baking hasn't happened yet.
But I am content. As I sit in my office reading a book, my three dogs are sleeping contentedly on the floor nearby. My third dog, Benny, isn't officially mine yet, as the paperwork making his adopting final hasn't been mailed to me. But he is mine nonetheless.
Outside, the day is grey, with threats of rain or snow. But I was able to walk the dogs and finish my exercise. I have listened to most of my 40-50 Christmas CDs. I got to spend time with my daughter at the beautiful River of Lights at the Albuquerque botanical gardens. Each year, the gardens are transformed into a wonderland filled with wire sculptures covered with some 2 millions lights.
My house is warm and secure. I have donated money to some of my favorite charities, and several bags of food to the big food bank. My daughter is happy in her new career and engaged to a great guy. I have lots of food in the pantry and freezer. I got to travel to many amazing places this year, and my travel schedule for 2016 is already filled with adventures to foreign lands. My life is good.
It is these simple pleasures that have become most important, not the endless search for 'the perfect gift' or fighting the hordes at the mall to buy things for people who need nothing and whom I seldom see. Nothing brings me more pleasure than traveling someplace I have never visited, or visiting Yellowstone National Park to watch wolves and bison. My favorite place to be is in nature, hiking, taking photographs or just observing. Fighting hordes of people in a mall isn't something I am willing to do. A walk along the river, a hike in a beautiful national park or getting up early to photograph an amazing sunrise -- these are the things that fill my heart with joy.
So on this Christmas Eve 2015, I wish you tidings of joy, peace, contentment and pleasure in the simple things.