Hunting Happiness – Christmas memories

As the holidays draw nearer and the plans are made for family dinners, celebrations, and parties with co-workers and friends it’s easy for us to fall into an auto-pilot mode and rely on traditions as an excuse to “phone in” our rituals for the season. It sometimes isn’t until we have a life changing circumstance that causes us to wake up from what I call our “holi-daze” and re-evaluate what is important to us and to live that out in a meaningful way that doesn’t just glaze over the holiday season just long enough for us to get by until it’s life as usual again after the New Year.

As we are now only ten days away from Christmas Day, I would like to share my own personal journey into the season with you.

This Christmas will be the first Christmas of our gathering at my family home with the absence of my grandfather, whom everyone who knew him affectionately referred to as “Papa”. His passing happened earlier this year on the day of his eightieth birthday party. His passing, as the last of his generation represented in our family dynamic, has brought about many great changes in our family. His wife, my grandmother, died several years earlier, followed by my Mother one month later. Since then I’ve lost my paternal grandmother, my Father, and my brother. Though the degree of loss is quite extreme in such a short amount of time it has taught me a lot about who I am and the legacy that I want to leave with my life. As we make preparations for Christmas we’ve seen a lot of change in our family as we learn to be the new “adults” and continue the traditions that we’ve all held so dear in the past while also integrating our own practices that we want to leave for our children and the future of our family.

As I’ve said several times in this “hunting happiness” conversation with you, it is my firm belief that our thoughts create our reality and while no one could fault us for adopting a belief system of bitterness and fear I am proud to say that, for the most part, we’ve chosen to take control of our thoughts collectively and accept the lessons that we can learn from the universe during this bittersweet time of transition.

It is always my goal to be as transparent and authentic as possible with my actions, classes, and writing and I’ve been so inspired by the support that we have all received and the beauty that has emerged from a situation that may be viewed as tragic, but is also transformative in a way that only the cycle of life can teach us.

I would love to leave you with a link to a video that my beautiful cousin has made speaking on the same subject reflecting her own faith during this time and I offer this as a human reaching out to other humans on this road of life that we all share together. To quote one of my favorite singer/songwriters Amy Grant “One day my end of the see-saw is up and the next day mine is down and yours is up”. We all can take responsibility to make happiness and joy a priority and we all can be there for each other, if not this time of year, then when?

Val can be reached at

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