by Tricia “Satya” Hurley

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. ~Confucius

christmastree2When the New Year arrives, I feel a familiar tug of sadness. “It’s time to take down the tree,” a little voice inside me prods. Each year I resist the voice, putting off the task just a bit longer. This year in particular, I’m especially glad I did.

I love sitting in the quiet of the morning. A cup of joe warms my hands while my eyes transfix on the soft, glowing lights. This morning’s gaze brought an unexpected gift of wisdom: All I need to know and do in the coming year is right here on the tree.

Our First Christmas

Our first Christmas tree as a couple was adorned with hand-me-down decorations and a handful of ornaments I picked up at the local Kmart. Only a few ornaments remain from that first tree over 20 years ago. In their place, a story of our family’s journey and the lessons of wisdom unfold.

At the very top our tree, a hand-made star our daughter created in 3rd grade. There’s also preschool art: a 2-year old hand-print turned into Santa’s beard, and of course the Lenox Winnie the Pooh’s – one for each year of our daughter’s life, school pictures dangling in frames and a plethora of other creations.

There’s truly nothing like a growing child to remind us of what’s important. The first lesson: Slow down. Be present. Enjoy every moment. Open your eyes and celebrate your blessings every day, no matter how big or small.

Other ornaments speak to the second lesson, the gifts of connection, kindness, and friendship: a hand-painted pine cone from an old friend’s wedding, 12-days of Christmas ornaments from Michael’s grandmother who passed on last fall, and many others from family, neighbors, and friends. You see, when we heed the first lesson – to slow down and be present, it seems there is so much more time to nurture and cultivate deep and lasting connections.

Last, but not least, the white lights. They are especially beautiful as they shimmer through one of my favorite ornaments, a crystal clear ballerina doing a pirouette. They remind me to keep it simple. All too often we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, which can seem to get, oh, so complicated and confusing. Which brings us full circle back to the first lesson: Slow down. Be Present. Celebrate your blessings every day.