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Ah December. It’s a month when the “most wonderful time of the year” brings with it both joy and stress. We barely say goodbye to Thanksgiving before the frantic pace begins, with a push to get more done in our already-limited free time. As we entertain, shop and cook for family gatherings, the world tries to divert our attention away from the real meaning of Christmas toward the best deals. Retailers try to convince us they have the perfect gift, when the only true, perfect gift was given to us in the form of a tiny baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.

When you feel scattered and overwhelmed, and maybe a bit like Scrooge, hit the pause button and reflect on the past 12 months. Of course, you won’t remember every day, but I’ll bet you can come up with a short list of gifts you’ve received throughout the year. (This would be the perfect time to open your gratitude journal or jar if you’ve made one!) Sometimes gifts come in the seemingly little things that we take for granted like a beautiful sunrise, a summer rain, or the nuzzle of a favorite pet. Occasionally we receive bigger gifts, such as a new job, a visit from an old friend, healing from a critical illness or the birth of a long-awaited child. And then there are the challenges that, in hindsight, turn out to be blessings. Those gifts, big and small, can add up to incredible wealth, apart from the world’s definition of success.

In the days leading up to Christmas, make time every day to reflect.

Think back over the past year and consider the gifts you’ve received. What victories can you celebrate? What are the little things that have made each day special? What challenges have grown you into a better person? Can you just be grateful to be alive? Reflecting on your past will help you see how much you have overcome and how very blessed you are. And that will change your perspective for the new year.

When you are filled with gratitude, think of ways you can be a gift to others. As “mature women,” we have so much to share! We have weathered storms and learned many life lessons the hard way. We have been on the mountain tops and in the valleys, and we are here today because of our resilience and strength. Our struggles have made us more patient and compassionate, and there are multitudes of people who need our wisdom and skills. In this age of excess and disrespect, the gift of our time and talent is priceless.

As you have received many gifts this year, be a gift to someone else this season. I think of my friends in Ugandawho have nothing, yet are so gracious and filled with joy. Over and over when I visited them I heard “thank you for loving us enough to come see us.” Investing your time and love in another woman’s life will be an immeasurable blessing to you as well.






  • Haralee December 4, 2017 at 9:14 am

    A great post. Look outside ourselves and feel the gift of living a life with enough!

    • Susan Tolles December 4, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      Haralee, there is always something to be grateful for, even on bad days! This is the best time of year to reflect on our abundant blessings, then to share them with others. Thanks for your kind words!

  • Darlene December 4, 2017 at 10:04 am

    That’s what I like best about December. For me, its a month of reflection…as the old year ends and the new one begins. A time to focus on achievements during the current year, and possibilities for thre new one. Also, its a time to reflect on challenges of the past year and the opportunities of the new one. I LOVE december. 🙂

    • Susan Tolles December 4, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      I’m with you, Darlene! Reflection is good for the soul, and puts us in the right mindset for the new year. Here’s to an amazing 2018!

  • Brenda Coffee December 4, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    It will be seven years, Christmas, James died. The last couple of years were emotionally easy, but this year I’ve sunk into a hole. Technically it’s “depression,” but I don’t want to take meds. Thank you for your post because I will lift my heart and my prayers to Him, give thanks for how far I’ve come and all I’ve been blessed with, and pray for the courageous women of Uganda who have so little but love so much. xoxox, B

    • Susan Tolles December 4, 2017 at 8:16 pm

      Oh Brenda, you have so much to be thankful for! But I know Christmas is tough–it always will be. You are such an amazing woman and we are all blessed to be part of this journey with you. You will be in my prayers, especially on Christmas day. XOXO

  • Donna December 4, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Beautiful and loving reminder that the biggest and best gift we can always give is the gift of ourselves: our time and attention. Thank you, Susan!

  • 1010 Park Place December 5, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    What a terrific idea! I’ve always wanted to go.

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