I am not as cranky as I like to give myself credit for. I suppose I like the idea, in a sick, twisted kind of way, of being an old, grumpy, curmudgeon. You know, except with a soft and sweet interior that only certain people can unearth by a touch or a song, or a well-timed box of chocolates and a non-fat, no-whip mocha.
But I digress.
I find I'm smiling a lot lately. And I'm of two minds about why this is: First, I've been practicing. No, I'm not kidding. Our church is putting on a Christmas play, and I'm cast as a happy person. So I need to practice smiling. And making it look natural. I've worked myself up into many a headache this month by oversmiling. Just like on my wedding day, when, had the photographer asked us to pose for one more shot, I would have popped a vein in my forehead. Chris and I both showed up for our dinner asking our guests if anyone had Tylenol in their purses. That was A LOT of smiling.
This December has been much the same.
Now, secondly, I'm smiling a lot because, wait for it, I'm actually a pretty happy person. And why not? There is a lot to be happy about. And even the things that maybe aren't so happyifying are there to give me a chance to practice more smiling. And to find something happy in it.
So try this: Next time you go to the Superstore on a Saturday afternoon 2 weeks before Christmas because you need just a couple of things, for goodness sake don't try to find a parking spot up close. Don't even look. It will stress you out and steal your joy. Just go to the back of the lot, on purpose, find a nice open spot along the back of the property and deeply breathe in the crisp air as you saunter towards the store. And when you walk past 3 spots that are closer, don't chide yourself for not parking there: smile, and be glad that someone else will have the happy moment of finding that good spot.
That's just one little tiny thing you can do to make yourself smile. What about actually asking the girl behind the clothing store counter who has been on her feet in the hot mall listening to canned Christmas music for 72 hours straight, and who has been dealing with cranky curmudgeons, what about asking her how she is doing, and what her plans are for the 25th? You could just do that. And smile at her too, okay? She has not been smiled at enough today.
What about when you see someone in a store, or at work, or at church who looks really pretty, or they are wearing a lovely scarf, TELL THEM!!! Oh please, just tell, even a complete stranger "I really like your scarf. It looks so pretty." You will make their day!
I don't have any empirical data on this next one, but men, I have it on good authority that you like to DO something to feel smiley. Grand. How about returning someone's shopping cart in that crazy busy parking lot for them? Or how about bringing up your neighbours recycling and garbage bins to their garage door. Wouldn't this be nice? It will make you smile, and of course it will make them smile (unless you live next door to a cranky person, but maybe you are the one to coax their inner smiler out!).
What I would love is for all of us to gather at some point and talk about how many headaches we've had this Christmas, not on account of too much stress and not enough sleep, but rather on account of so much smiling!
Try it! And I tell you what; I'll just give up my grumpy facade if you will! Let's show our neighbours and co-workers and family members just how happy we are, and show them that there is always something to smile about, no matter how tricky things seem.
Really, if nothing else, if you really can't think of anything else smile-worthy, you can think of the best smile-making thing of all time: the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and all that that entails. Can you think of anything better? What's making you smile these days?