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Taking note: Sharing joy

It’s a strange sight: a collection of crisp autumn leaves covering a blanket of snow, with just a few spots of bright green grass exposed.

Everything is quiet, except a few drops of water dripping gently from a steadily shrinking icicle.

But then, a breeze picks up. Compared to the cutting, ice-cold wind of recent days, it’s almost as refreshing as a spring wind. It carries the same rich scent of dirt and grass, a whisper of humidity.

So much different than the scentless, frozen wintry gusts of the preceding days.

The past week seems to have contained fall, winter and now, a strange sort of spring.

“Only here,” I think to myself.

Change is the only constant, especially if you’re talking about Upper Peninsula weather.

And with the time change this weekend, we’re all in for another adjustment.

We’ll face lighter mornings, darker evenings.

Soon, the sun will be up when I go to work, but not when I go home, instead of vice versa.

It’s a seasonal tipping point.

The holidays will soon be upon us.

And while we’ve certainly had some holidays come and go since the pandemic hit, this upcoming round of holidays seems different.

They beg so many questions of us.

What will we do?

How will we cope?

How long will this go on?

These are all nearly impossible to answer.

But we can try to make the best of these endlessly challenging and strange times.

We can try to spread joy and connect with our friends, families and neighbors, even from a distance.

And one great example of this, in my mind, is all of the seasonal yard decorations on display.

Seeing a decorated home or yard never fails to lift my spirits and remind me of all that’s good in the world.

It always brings a smile to my face to know someone cared enough about being festive to battle with lights, wires, extension cords, air compressors and who knows what else.

It gives me such faith in humanity to think of the immense efforts people will put into festivity, silliness, novelty and joy.

The things that we do, even though we don’t have to.

The things we do because we love doing them.

The many ways we still seek — and find — joy, novelty and silliness, even in these dark days.

Looking at adorned homes, yards and businesses reminds me that we need to maintain our sense of humor, our exuberant joy, our thirst for novelty and even frivolity these days, despite — or perhaps because of — the year we’ve had.

More than ever, we need to make efforts to help each other laugh and smile.

Whether that’s putting festive decorations outside your house, surprising someone with something silly, or just sharing a humorous story, it will make a difference in these dark days.

Because it’s easy to get caught up in the stress, the exhaustion, the uncertainty, the grief, and the other unpleasant emotions we all have pretty good reasons to feel these days.

But just because these feelings are justified doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to let them take over.

Because, in the end, this will be harder if we aren’t willing to try to have a little fun and spread a bit of joy.

And it doesn’t take much.

It might be something as simple as sending someone a silly animal picture or being willing to laugh at yourself when you’re taking something too seriously.

It could be a smile, a treat, sharing an article you know someone would enjoy.

Or, as mentioned above, it can be decorating your home or yard, which is likely to bring a smile to all who see it.

It could be anything you dream up, big or small.

There are so many wonderful moments we can give each other and ourselves to lighten these dark days.

And if we’re all willing to send a little light into the world, we’ll find these dark days illuminated by our shared joy.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cecilia Brown is city editor at The Mining Journal. She lives in Marquette and can be found hiking if the weather’s nice, or curled up with a book if not. Contact her at cbrown@miningjournal.net.

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