Sideways Santa

Happy New Year! Here’s to hoping this new year really is happy and free of anything that resembles a mask, a needle, or my husband. Just kidding. Actually, our intense time together, since he retired a month before Covid hit, has taught me a lot about myself. When I was brave enough to look deep inside.

This is the time of year when we are encouraged to look deep inside or outside and make some changes, some resolutions. That isn’t always an easy thing to do. It’s so much easier to blame the people and the circumstances around us for whatever challenges we are facing ,than to fess up to our own part in them.

As the end of the year was approaching, I started pondering more regularly what I would like to be rid of in order to make a fresh start come 2022. I asked myself, “What am I contributing to my own angst?”

With all the challenges of the last year, it has felt so stifling, so claustrophobic. It feels like life has been lived in a very small space. The smallness of it all gets to me frequently. I can become very discontent.

I asked myself, “How can I change that?  What would free me? What would help me live life in a bigger, airier, alive space where contentment abounds?”

The answer was right there on my Christmas tree. A sideways Santa. (See the picture.)

All the ornaments on our tree are meticulously placed, by me, to make sure they hang right, they are spaced evenly, and there is variation in their placement. Heaven forbid there are two bells next to each other or two snowmen.

There was one Santa ornament that no matter how I placed him, twisted him, or tied him, he wouldn’t hang straight. He insisted on facing sideways. It bothered me a lot. For a while the beauty of the rest of the tree was hidden from me by my need for order. My need for things to be right, according to me.

As I was pondering one day, it dawned on me. That sideways Santa was the perfect illustration of just what I need to change to feel the freedom I am looking for. To make a fresh start. I need to be content with imperfection in things and in people.

I need to train myself to always see first the beauty and rightness and goodness around me, that is, the God around me, rather than what falls short of my expectations. Lofty resolution this is but I have a lot of opportunities to practice this new way of seeing.

Thank you, sideways Santa! Thank you retired husband!


Joan Carey, Firstfruits executive director, is an author and speaker with a passion for helping women grow in their relationships with God. Her Ponder This book contains a series of modern day parables sure to get you thinking about and seeing our extraordinary God in our ordinary experiences. Joan invites you to use resources on this website for daily reflection in your journey to grow in God's loving care for you.
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