“Mary, Mary, Wake up, it’s Christmas!” I remember my eyes popping open and excitedly saying those words to my sleeping sister on Christmas morning of 1961, the best Christmas of my young life. Out in the living room sat wrapped packages and two large cardboard boxes that must have been too big to wrap…one was for me, one for my sister.
Inside each box was a walking doll, almost as big as me. Mine had long straight dark brown hair and brown eyes and wore a light brown cotton dress. She sported white anklet socks and black Mary Jane shoes. My sister’s had blue eyes, curly blonde hair, and wore a delicate white dress covered in small pink roses.
Each doll had a white satin ribbon pinned to her waistband that said, “Hold my left hand and I will walk with you.” When you pulled up on that left hand, the doll’s legs moved forward…not easily, you had to pull…but back then, in my six-year-old mind, this was amazing. That doll was the best gift I ever got.
I can see from the photos, a basketball hoop, what looks like two boxes of much-needed shoes, and a few other gifts. There were four children in our family. My parents usually got us one or two gifts each, and we were encouraged, with savings bonds, to buy each other gifts. Mom would put a dollar in every month, and at the end of the year, I had twelve dollars to spend on gifts for my family. I think she did the same for each of us until we were old enough to work.
When I look at the photos now, compared to the perfection and excess we see splashed across every lifestyle magazine, my parents’ home left much to be desired. Did that make any difference to me, my siblings, or my mom and dad? Absolutely not.
I was lucky to grow up in a home filled with love, contentment and gratitude. My parents never complained about what they didn’t have, they were thankful for, and relished what they did have. My mother constantly thanked God for her good fortune. I remember her looking out the large picture window of the dining room at our backyard and saying, “I couldn’t want a any more. I have a beyoudeeful home and family, what a more could I ask a for?”
Contentment can be hard to achieve in this country. We constantly compare ourselves to others who have more. Good marketing makes us pine for the next cool thing like the go-go boots I desperately wanted in fifth grade. But don’t fall prey to it. Marketers are just selling something…I should know, I’ve been writing commercials for almost 20 years. They sell you dreams of what your life could be if you just had this or that…but once you get those things, are you really happier?
But, contentment IS possible in 2023. It just requires some tending. Reminding yourself every morning how lucky you are to have what you do and to live in a country where success is possible, if you’re willing to work for it.
I am beyond thankful for my parents’ example, for my loving, generous, fun family, my wonderful friends, and you, my readers and followers. Trust me, gratitude is not something that I am successful at every day, but I try.
If you’re not a follower yet, please take a minute to become one at the link on the top right of this website, or at the very bottom of the blog post on your phone.
This coming year, I wish you contentment, happiness, and satisfaction in all you do. May 2023 keep you working toward your goals, but always grateful for what you have.
Happy New Year!