While preparing Christmas Eve dinner a few years ago I sliced the tip of my finger on a sharp blade. Although it wasn’t a particularly bad cut, it was deep. I wrapped it tightly and went outside to catch the final rays of evening light. While I was sitting on the porch, feeling sorry for myself, a neighbor popped over. As we chatted over the fence, I held my finger in my palm and grumbled about having cut myself. After offering me a pair of latex gloves so I could continue making dinner, he told me that he’d had a difficult few days. A close friend of his family, a woman with four children, had died in a tragic accident.
The weight of his story sunk in deep. I kept picturing the children without their mother on Christmas, or any future Christmases. In an instant, the life of this family had been irrevocably changed.
I returned to my house with a heavy heart. I felt deeply for my neighbor and the family dealing with this awful tragedy, but I realized that my sadness wouldn’t serve anyone in that moment. My sorrow would never bring back the wife and mother, nor would it put their family back together. The only thing I had control over was my feelings. I could continue to feel sad, or I could say a prayer for the family and make a greater effort to appreciate every moment. And, so that’s what I did.