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December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas! What Successes Have You Had?

Christmas ornament with the text: Focusing on the Good Stuff

As I mentioned last week, this Christmas season has been a struggle for me. The chaos of dealing with the aftermath of our house flooding has made our usual Christmas traditions a bust.

The vast majority of our possessions are stuck in storage for at least another month and a half during the reconstruction to fix the damage. We have no place to put decorations (even outdoor decorations would be in the way of crews carrying drywall stacks and scaffolding pieces up the walk). And I haven’t had the time or energy to do more than the minimum.

I know I’m not alone. We all struggle sometimes.

Yet we all also succeed as well. Not everything in our life, family, job, or writing goes wrong for us all the time. *smile* So this time of year is also perfect for focusing on where we succeeded, what we’re proud of, or what we’ve accomplished.

How Can We Focus on Successes?

I’ve mentioned before the trick of looking at our lives through the lens of Christmas letters. You know, those letters people stuff in Christmas or holiday cards to catch family and friends up on their doings of the past year? You’ve probably seen (or written) a Christmas letter at some point in time.

Thinking of what you accomplished this year? Here's a trick to focus on the positive... Click To TweetChristmas letters are well-known for providing a “perfect” glimpse of a family’s life. The adults in the Christmas letters never argue about money or leaving the toilet seat up. The kids never show disrespect to their parents. And the pets never piddle on the carpet.

In short, Christmas letters are all about putting our best face forward for others. Everyone knows they’re not quite real, and in some ways, they deserve the teasing and rolled eyes. Yet they can also be a good exercise in reminding ourselves of all the good things that happened during the year.

Sometimes the bad things rise into our memory more easily. Too easily.

But if we concentrate on the good things, summarizing what we’re proud of, what we’ve accomplished, what warmed our hearts or felt special, we force ourselves to see our successes. That end-of-year review can be good for us and our mental health.

As writers, we suffer from self-doubt too often, and something that helps us see our writing and struggles in a more positive light couldn’t hurt. We might even feel like we’ve had more positives than negatives this year. And that thought might keep us warm during the dark nights of our soul. *smile*

My Christmas Success

For Christmas, we typically make several hundred cookies to hand out to family, friends, and neighbors, but with the flood’s effect on our kitchen, we weren’t sure we’d be able to make any cookies. As I shared last week, rather than give up our tradition, my family was determined to do our best to continue our cookie-baking extravaganza.

We stuck with bar cookies in a nod to our limited space. Even so, in the midst of the baking flurry this past weekend, pans of cooling cookies were stacked 3 high while waiting to be cut.

But our final tally? 726 cookies—right in line with our usual crazy-high numbers. *grin*

That just goes to show that while we can’t do everything on our to-do list, if we’re careful with our priorities and reaching out for help, we often can succeed more than we think. And now my brother’s family will get this container of cookies tomorrow in lieu of a store-bought gift that I never had time to go shopping for.

Jami's cookie-baking extravaganza

This year we made Fudge Oatmeal Bars, Chocolate Fudge, and Chocolate Bark (which we sprayed silver and gold), Butterscotch Bars, and Cinnamon Bars. *passes around platefuls of virtual cookies* Here, take as many as you want—I made plenty.

If you’re celebrating this week, I hope your plans all unfold smoothly, your travels all go safely, your family members all behave perfectly, and all your dreams for the New Year come true.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not,
I wish you all the best during this season.
Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah—heck, Happy Everything!
And take some cookies… Please! *smile*

Have you thought about your year’s accomplishments or successes? Do you struggle to recognize your successes? Have you ever written a Christmas letter? Do you think that approach can help us focus on the good stuff in our lives? Do you have thoughts or advice of how we can recognize our accomplishments?

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Sindhu Vijayasarathy
Sindhu Vijayasarathy

I’m sorry you have had a rough few months. I can relate. My house is in a flux as well from a reno that’s taken 3 months to complete. This Christmas our Santa arrived in the form of a nice young man from Brazil who is willing to complete the job and work on Christmas. It’s not a religious holiday for us but we have always loved the sentiment of this holiday. This year even more so. Hope your Christmas is full of joy. And thank you for your blog. You’ve helped me become a better writer.

Clare O'Beara

Have a happier 2020!
Thanks for the post. Hope everything goes well for the renovation.
Christmas letters we received seem to be full of ill health and winding down … I am so thankful I am going to college and enjoying the ride.

Renee Wittman

Thinking of successes is a great way to think of your year! I’m all too prone to think of my failures, but looking back, I had a good year. We also flooded, although nowhere near as badly, so you have my sympathy – we had to replace our water heater and have emergency repairs done on the furnace and a/c. But, we were back up and running in only a few weeks, thankfully.

I can look back at this year and see that I stepped out of my comfort zone, and I think that’s a good thing. I even reached out to one of my favorite bloggers to guest post! 😉 I tried a lot of things, but instead of seeing the ones that flopped, I should be seeing the effort in trying and my successes.

Your posts are always uplifting, and I look forward to them. Even if I just read them in my email most of the time!

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