In the Face of Adversity

The importance of resilience

I Hate Christmas Lights

Small sacrifices demonstrate big love.

Guest blooger: Dr. Bill Conklin

Another holiday season is upon us and in the spirit of starting anew, I’d like to make a confession.  I hate Christmas lights!

To be clear, I think the numerous colorful, creative displays are beautiful.  Seeing the light reflected in the joyous faces of my children warms my heart.  But, hanging the colorful baubles is something I dread.

The mere thought of dragging out the gnarled mess of breakable beauties, disentangling them, checking to see if they’re still working, climbing the rickety ladder and draping the electronic decorations across the front of the abode induces stress from around Halloween until after New Years.  Invariably, a strand that worked perfectly well on the ground refuses to work on the side of the house.  So, there’s another trip up the ladder, extended detective work to disclose the culprit and replace that bulb from a previously uncooperative replacement strand.

Last year, I made the mistake of mixing new strands with old and repeatedly burned out a fuse on the newest strand.  That was excruciatingly frustrating, but somehow I mustered the wherewithal to avoid a verbal outburst (and further embarrassment) in front of my amused neighbors.  By the way, my deepest gratitude for the local big box store for your generous exchange policy.  You saved me more than money.

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In 2010, a windy December storm took down a portion of the lights on the west end of the house.  Risking life and limb by climbing the heights to the second story once was taxing enough.  Given the anticipation of another climb in January, I resigned to Mother Nature and her cascade of lights.  Perhaps they were no longer symmetrical, but they were lovely just the same.

In some ways, we were lucky in 2011.  Temperatures were mild helping prevent frozen hands from sticking to the chilly metal gutters.

Admittedly, the homes in many neighborhoods are beautifully adorned.  Even displays on the gaudy side bring smiles and reminders of family, friends, and the spirit of the season.  But is this really worth the hassle and the risk?

Okay, don’t tell my spouse, but the answer is “yes.”  I hang these things with shaky legs from a rickety ladder because she loves them.  Undeniably better natured than I, she shines brighter than the house when she sees those silly, temperamental lights dangling from their hooks.  It’s as if I built the house, discovered electricity, and invented the light bulb when she looks me directly in the face says “Thank you, Honey.”  I’m not particularly bright when it comes to romance, but I think this wins some pretty big points.

In fact, doing something I dread to please my spouse makes the task not quite so dreadful at all.  This small sacrifice is really an opportunity to show her that I value her.  Think about it, is there a better way to show someone how important they are than to do something for them that they know you hate?  Does a gift mean more when it forces you to extend yourself?  I think so.

Consider it for a moment.  Are you willing to stretch to let your partner know you love them?  Doing so this season may be a gift that reaps serious dividends.

Dr. Bill Conklin is a psychologist practicing in East Tennessee. Bill has applied the priniciples of positive psychology since the late 1990s. He has coordinated the development of A.P.T. - Automatic Positive Thinking™ a group positive psychological intervention. For information:
www.automaticpositivethinking.com <http://www.automaticpositivethinking.com>

Ron Breazeale, Ph.D., is the author of Duct Tape Isn’t Enough: Survival Skills for the 21st Century as well as the novel Reaching Home.

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