Many senior citizens are lucky enough to experience this holiday season with grandchildren. Never-ending excitement and high-pitched laughter fill the halls as these bundles of energy prepare for the magic that only Christmas can bring. If you can get them to sit still long enough, you may even share in the special holiday event of making a Christmas list.
Do you remember not so very many years ago when you created a special list of the most important items you wanted from Santa? You carefully reviewed and contemplated the many options and selectively reduced the total to a manageable number, ever considerate of Santa’s busy schedule. Finally, you shared your list with your parents who somehow had the inside track to Santa to make sure the list got filled.
Over the years we received some items on our list and others we did not. The beauty was that even if we did not get everything, during the weeks and months before Christmas there was always the chance that we might. We all hoped for the best possible scenario and in that hope experienced a state of mind we could benefit from all year long.
Hope. A life without hope can wear down the best of us. Imagine receiving a diagnosis of some terminal disease with no known cure. Or picture a Haitian earthquake survivor who years later still finds herself living in the mud and squalor that nature left behind. Optimism can be sorely tested by many challenging circumstances, as those of us who have lived some years can relate.
I think it is hope that keeps us going. It begins with that childish hope for presents on a list. Later we hope that things will get better, that bad will turn to good, and that mistakes will be forgiven. We hope that our efforts are helpful to others and that we do not unintentionally hurt. We hope that tomorrow will be a better day, less fortunate people will find support, and maybe that politics will take a back seat to real needs of the people. We hope there will always be someone to love us and that we will have someone to love.
If we did not have hope for the good things that may be (including presents) we would have a difficult time convincing any youngster to spend time on a Christmas list. And how challenging would our life be if there was no hope to better our situation? I hope you get everything on your Christmas list, that tomorrow is a better day than today, and that we never lose our capacity to hope. And I hope you all have a safe and merry Christmas.
Dave Bernard is not yet retired but has begun his due diligence to plan for a satisfying retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.