This past Thanksgiving we had a lot of family come and spend the wonderful holiday with us. My brother, brother-in-law, both of my sister-in-laws, 4 nieces and 1 nephew all made the journey up from Florida. My grandmother, mom and dad also joined Tracy, Ava, Ella and me for dinner. At times it was chaotic but I would not change it for anything in the world.
At one point I stepped outside and had a moment to reflect on how blessed I am and what really matters in life. I have written before on how Tracy and I live off a very moderate income. We don’t have the biggest house, drive the fanciest cars (heck, Tracy’s mini-van has more dents in it than I can count) or have as much as some of my peers. I know it is so easy to focus on the things we don’t have but, during this quiet time, I really had a great moment. I looked in through the windows and saw nothing but love and laughter – the things that really matter.
Like I mentioned above, it is pretty easy to focus on all that we do not have – especially during the Christmas shopping season when we are bombarded with ads trying to sell us on buying something special for our loved ones. The thing is, these “things” really don’t matter in the end. Sure, in the here and now they may seem important but, in the long-term, they don’t mean all that much.
As we get older and look back on our lives, are we going to remember those things that we bought (or could not buy), or the time and memories we have with our loved ones? I know this is a pretty easy question for me to answer. I was recently reminded of this from one of my best friends whom I have known since I was in 5th grade. He is a very successful lawyer and was in what I thought was a happy marriage. He had it all – at least from the outside. A few years ago his grandfather passed away. As his grandfather spent his final days in the hospital he was surrounded by all of his children and grand kids. At that point, things really meant nothing. My friend has wanted to have children of his own but his wife was focused on her career and the timing was never right. At that point in time, my friend knew something had to give. He saw his grandfather being surrounded by his family and realized his circumstances would be different unless something changed.
I am not a fan of divorce but my buddy had to take this step in order to have children of his own. He was remarried last year and his wife gave birth to his daughter this summer. At his wedding he was as happy as I have ever seen him. This is someone that has a large income, lives in a nice home and has many of the things that most of us attribute to being happy. Despite this, he was not content because what he wanted most was family – something most of us have but tend to overlook.
I hope you were able to reflect on the blessings that you have this past Thanksgiving and Christmas season and what really matters in life.
This piece from Danny reminds me of the below biblical perspective on contentment from this post I wrote in 2011:
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. (1 Tim. 6:6-8)