Susan Sparks: Taking Down the Tree - An Excerpt from Her New Book
Hi Y'all, Welcome to the Shiny Side Up! A journal of infectious inspiration that will lift you up, make you smile and leave you stronger!
I pray that all of you are staying strong and well through these times.
I also hope that you are finding creative ways
to stay connected with friends and loved ones.
I'm glad you are part of my family.
We are stronger together!
Sooooo . . . during this time of sheltering in place . . . I'm thinking I could use a little Christmas.
Good! That’s why I am publishing my newest book, MIRACLE ON 31st STREET, on May 3rd! It’s a collection of holiday meditations intended as evergreen inspiration -- inspirations to help you navigate stress and go from Grinch to gratitude! I was planning on publishing it later this year, but given our levels of anxiety, and upheaval, I think we need it NOW!
A percentage of the book's first month’s proceeds will go to No Kid Hungry—helping kids get food during school closures and all the year-long.
As my gift to you, my Shiny Side Up readers get a VIP sneak preview of the book! For the next four weeks, I will be sharing sample chapters with each post. This is the forth and final shared chapter. I hope you enjoy it!
Stay well my friends, xo Susan
TAKING DOWN THE TREE
“He who has not Christmas in his heart
will never find it under a tree.”
—Roy L. Smith
There is one holiday ritual I hate: taking down the tree. It’s a sad job, as it marks the end of the season. It’s also messy. Dragging out a month-old, dried-up balsam means getting sticky needles everywhere. Most of all, it leaves the house with this big empty hole in the corner of the living room.
What was there before the tree? I can’t even remember, but I took the tree down, and here I sit, feeling sad, staring at a bare spot in the living room and a house strewn with needles.
I need to get over this annual trauma. January is supposed to be the month of moving on, cleaning out, and lightening up, right? Perhaps if I thought of taking down the tree as a New Year’s resolution exercise, it would be easier.
New Year’s invites us to think of things like my tree—the old, dried-up parts of our lives that need clearing out. Maybe we need to release a grudge, a lingering sense of self-doubt, or even a dream that has died. Whatever it is, just like taking down the tree, letting go can bring a renewed sense of possibility and freedom.
For example, the hole in the corner of my living room can now accommodate a floor lamp to light the room or a plant to bring life and energy to the house. What things in your life are past their time? What things are taking up room without bringing light or life?
Of course, even if we know what needs to go, we may avoid clearing it out because letting go can leave a hole we’re not sure how to fill. If we let go of anger, for example, what goes in its place? If we aren’t mad, then who are we? If we forgive, does that mean the deed goes unpunished?
We may also avoid clearing out an old Christmas tree because it can be messy. When you leave the tree up too long, needles begin to fall everywhere. Worse, they end up in strange places you didn’t expect—like the needles I found in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator last May. In the same way, when we let a painful or difficult issue sit too long, the “needles” or fallout from that issue can find their way into strange places, producing anger or tears at unexpected times. Best to deal with the issue now.
The new year is an opportune time to revisit our priorities and sense of purpose. What blessings do you want to invite into your life now that you’ve made room? How about forgiveness? By letting go, you’re not condoning the act, only releasing the heavy burden of bitterness. As the old saying goes, the most influential person in your life is the one you refuse to forgive. Or how about welcoming peace into your life? If you let go of worry by trusting in a higher power, you can put your heart at rest.
Miraculous things can happen when we make room. As the book of Isaiah teaches, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 42:18-19).
Hard as it was, I guess I’m glad I took down the tree. Sure, I have a lot of needles to sweep and furniture to rearrange, but hey, if I didn’t take down the old dried-up tree, then where would I find room for the new tree—and the new joy—next Christmas?
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