I’m a big believer in noticing the blessings in life.
Like, a BIG believer.
Bad things happen to everyone, but I truly think that those bad things are easier to deal with and – dare I say even overcome – if we can teach ourselves to see the infinite blessings that surround us every single day.
It’s Christmas Day. I’m currently sitting in a surprisingly busy Starbucks, waiting on my frappuccino and old-fashioned donut. I hate that anyone has to work on Christmas Day, but I’m equally grateful that I have somewhere to go instead of sitting home alone Christmas morning – the first I’ve ever spent without my girls.
It’s sad and hard and hurts so deeply to not be with them this morning, but I knew I didn’t want to spend my time focusing on those feelings. And the best way I know to do that is to turn my thoughts to the immense blessings all around me.
Today, those blessings all revolve around a tire swing.
Julia has been yearning (that really is the best word for it) for a tire swing for MONTHS. We drive past a yard with one on the way to school each day, and I’m struggling to think of a single day we’ve passed it and she hasn’t mentioned it. When the girls and I moved into our rental home, it came with a backyard with a traditional swing made of two ropes and a wooden board – the girls were so happy and had tons of fun on it for months. It was old, though, and one morning after a heavy overnight snowfall, one of the ropes snapped. Yes – I’m not kidding – snow broke the swing. Who knew? Long story short, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, and I knew exactly what Santa was bringing her for Christmas.
The first thing I did was use a neighborhood app called Nextdoor to see if anyone near me had an old tire they wanted to get rid of. Someone replied right away, and I scored a free tire. After that I did some quick research, took some notes with me to Home Depot, and for $45 bought the rope, chain, and other materials needed to hang the swing. My sweet friend and her husband came over and helped me rig the swing for hanging, I cut down the old swing (forgetting to put the ladder away, which Julia noticed immediately – yikes!), and then after taking the girls to their father’s place for Christmas Eve, I hung the swing in the tree. I felt like such a badass mom.
It wasn’t the most difficult thing to put together, but I had a lot of help. And that’s what occurred to me on my run this morning – and at that moment the realization of blessings that went into this gift of a tire swing flooded over me.
- There was someone out there who was willing to give a tire to my daughter for Christmas. Not only did she not ask for a dime, but she had it wrapped in a bag on her front porch with a note for me, and told me later she was so glad it was going to someone who really wanted it.
- Home Depot has some of the most wonderful employees. Two kind older men spent the better part of an hour with me, mulling over my plans for how to hang the swing, looking into every safety aspect of my plan, coming up with alternative solutions, measuring and re-measuring, taking items out of packaging to be sure they’d work, and re-checking weight limits for every item they recommended. While I’m sure this was a project I could have managed on my own, it meant a lot to me to bump ideas off of them and know that I had what I needed when I left the store.
- My friend and her husband, who gave up some family time on a Sunday morning to help me connect the eyehook to the tire. He brought his tools, and again, while I’m sure I could have done this part on my own, it was comforting to know that someone with his experience was giving it another look to be sure it would work.
- Our home – which of course, is always a blessing, but in this case for more than just providing a place of protection and warmth. We have never had a backyard large enough for any kid-type outdoor fun. Our yard in Florida was on a canal (without a fence), and when we first moved to Colorado our home had a backward that was maybe 10 feet deep. Now the girls and I live in a rental home with a HUGE backyard – we have a trampoline (also given to us by a friendly neighbor), a tree platform (which came with the house and now has a ladder thanks to the same friend and her husband), and a tree that’s perfect for a swing. The girls love being out back, and it makes me so happy that they finally have a safe and inviting place to be outside.
- My dad, who raised me to not be afraid to tackle hard projects, who taught me that I am just as capable at accomplishing home-related tasks as any man, and who made sure I had my own set of tools when I struck out on my own. I didn’t need the tools for this project, actually, but I love that he made sure I was set.
And, I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t see co-parenting as a blessing in this situation too. This one is a bit harder for me to work through, but as I said, I’m a big believer in blessings – so here goes.
- This gift would have truly been impossible to present this way if it weren’t for the fact that I had to give the girls to their father for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. There would have been no way to hang it, no way to sneak it into the tree without her seeing. Now that I think about it, we wouldn’t even be in this house, and there would be no huge backyard and no tire swing. There would have been no need to reach out to other people for help, and those connections and opportunities for others to show kindness would have been lost. There would have been no need to challenge myself and become a badass tire swing-hanging mom.
I guess, in a way, the negative event of the divorce and the need to co-parent have now created a whole new set of blessings.
Out of the bad comes the good.
I get to be with my girls in just two short hours, and instead of a heart full of bitterness and anger and jealousy, I’m ready to welcome them home and celebrate Christmas for everything that it is – hope, joy, love, and peace.
Merry Christmas, everyone.