The end of the year is a great time for celebration here at Acacia Creek and all around the world. Almost every ancient culture in the northern hemisphere held celebrations in December as well. For them, the winter solstice marked the return of the sun, which they watched set farther south on the horizon for six months, making each day shorter. The sun’s return was a sign of hope for longer sun filled days and new crops. The hope for better days to come has always been an occasion to celebrate during the dark cold winter in modern times as well.
Celebrations give us something to look forward to throughout the year. At Acacia Creek, we have hosted many great celebrations and there are many more to come. We also hold hope for the future, as we see the COVID restrictions ease up and feel more normalcy. Hope does not mean passively waiting for things to get better; rather, it means taking steps to make things better. When we feel empowered to take actions to improve our circumstances, we believe that those actions will make a difference. Hope reduces stress and feelings of helplessness. Being proactive in our lives increases our happiness levels and improves our quality of life.
When we hope for a better future and take actions to make it so, we are using creative thinking and problem-solving skills. It takes courage and confidence to keep hope alive. Hope isn’t about denying the reality of difficult situations, it is accepting reality and working to make the best of it. When we keep hope alive, we become more resilient and flexible. In other words, hope requires optimism.
Hope wasn’t something I thought about until last year, when I became aware of my feelings of hopelessness caused by the pandemic. After hearing anthropologist Jane Goodall talk about her hope and how it fuels her ongoing efforts to make the world a better place, I was inspired. Setting goals, creating projects, and aspiring to grow is what keeps hope alive, and that is great cause to celebrate.
There is a reason I’m discussing hope and after our campaign to practice gratitude in November. By noticing what we are grateful for each day, it builds positive feelings. Those positive feelings can bolster us and help us maintain the hope needed to keep moving forward and to create the life we want. It’s important to appreciate and celebrate our accomplishments big and small. Whenever we come together to celebrate a holiday or special occasion, let’s remember how far we have come as a community and let those feelings add to our celebration.
Happy Winter Solstice and Happy Holidays to all. Here’s hoping for better days to come and many more joyous celebrations in our future!