Counting My Blessings Instead of….

Torn label

The Christmas lights are glowing; the snow is falling; our puppies are snoring softly on the couch across the room.  ‘Tis the season for…  Were you expecting some feel-good affirmation of what I count as blessings in my life?  Not so fast.  For me too often ’tis the season for stress and worry.  Who am I kidding?  Every season is an opportunity to focus not on my blessings but whatever may be amiss in my admittedly somewhat limited and fortunate universe.  I  believe in God and grace, but for me is the path of micro-management and self-examination of every flaw and perceived fault, not to mention those forces that seem aligned against my contentment and happiness. I once told my husband that worry for me was much like a Pez dispenser — take care of one and another pops immediately into its place.   I read those wonderful affirmations over November and December by individuals who seem to move more easily in the circles of grace and love, affirmed through sentences that actually end in a period while I seemingly can’t avoid …

A couple of weeks before Christmas, on a snowy Saturday, I found myself rushing a somewhat bedraggled return package into a UPS store in Plaistow, NH.  My folks were in the car; we had spent the day shopping and navigating the poor driving conditions and bustling crowds.  I had managed to affix and remove this particular return label about four separate times (wrong side, incorrect packaging for type of delivery, etc.) and it now clung feebly  to the backing.  “I need help,” I said to the UPS man who came to the counter and then explained the series of unfortunate events that had led to the use of an airmail only package for a ground return and to the poor condition of the label.  He reassured me that all was well; they really didn’t worry about those pesky rules printed on the sides of padded envelopes, and it was with some frustration that I once again attempted to remove the label from the (wrong side) of the backing only to see it rip right through the UPS code.  Disaster. I looked at him in sheer helplessness.  He reached over the counter and gently took the package and label from me.  Then he leaned towards me.  “Listen to me!” he said, urgently but not unkindly.   I gave him my full attention, expecting a lecture of some sort or other on my multiple transgressions in following the UPS return process.  He continued.  “Go home.  Have a glass of wine, and forget it.  This is supposed to be the season of joy, not worry; I’ve got this.”   I burst into laughter thinking about what he had just witnessed — here was grace when I least expected it.  As I walked out considerably lighter of heart than when I walked in, I heard him say, “And if they ask me about this, I never saw you.”

I find myself thinking about my unlikely angel as I catch myself worrying about this and that, whether petty or apparently more serious.  I’m reminded of that old Irving Berlin song in White Christmas, “Counting My Blessings”, except, with apologies, I think I would update it to “Counting My Blessings instead of *bleep*”.  There is so much more blessing to my life than hardship, and what hardship there is I am thankful for, because there lies opportunity and a reminder that I am still on a path of challenge and growth.  Count my blessings?  You bet!

Count Your Blessings

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings

Irving Berlin

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