Cozy Sweater Smile

Finding that perfect sweater for the holidays can sometimes be harder than biting into a peppermint candy cane. It’s sticky, but once you find that perfect sweater giddiness spreads joy in the eyes like that of candy in a child’s hand. And who says you can’t get one in all your favorite colors. That’s what I did…

A new sweater brings hope for the holidays and renews me in a way I’m grateful for. The softness of its cotton reminds me of pure, white snowflakes and the beautiful wonderland they create when millions come together. I love snuggling up with creamy coffee and a Nicholas Sparks novel only to read a snowy afternoon away. Word after word comforts me, yet frustrates me on the concept of gushy love stories.

Why do we read and then watch these gushy movies filled with the ideal, yet seemingly unrealistic train of events? Nicholas Sparks, the ruler of love stories, does not let his characters off easy. At least one will find love and one will die. I just don’t understand why I love, love, love these kinds of stories.

I do know, however, after I’ve seen a Nicholas Sparks movie (just recently seen Best of Me) I have this overwhelming experience that makes me question everything. Everything except this…

Love stories are life. It’s real life whether we want to believe it or not. There are no happy endings because it’s an ending. What’s exciting is a beginning. If you want a good love story, there is no ending. It lives on forever, much like the Christmas Spirit.

There is something magical in reading my favorite novel in a cozy sweater. Its plushy knit wraps around me like a million tiny marshmallows that should be in hot chocolate and inevitably makes a cozy-sweater-smile appear on my face.

Red, glitter gold, and green bulbs hang off branches on my Christmas tree as my tortoiseshell kitten paws them to the ground where she hides them under her belly. She too is soft, and smells like a pillow. The stockings are put up near lit-up garland and colorful sugar is sprinkled onto Christmas cookies. All while wearing my cozy-sweater-smile. This is me, this is real life. And this is what a genuine smile looks like.

Joy to the world is really how I feel. Joy for life, joy for every living thing on earth. This is why I love Christmas. To get this comfort feeling of love and kindness and actually see it and live it throughout the holidays. Now that my spirit is up high in Christmas joys, I need to start my Christmas shopping. Black Friday? No way. Everyone deserves to have off on Thanksgiving and Christmas. So what will I do instead? Wrap myself in my cozy sweater and shop from my laptop. This way I’m not just grabbing gifts and running to the register. I’m able to actually think of each person and show them how much joy they bring me.

Love, life, and happiness…

You can define it. You can even describe it. But, how do you actually feel love, life, and happiness? And how do you know you are in love and living life with happiness? To answer that, it all comes from
the heart. A part of us that we can see deep within the iris, like sparks between young love. aa2b57f7-2c82-4a28-8ec0-54793c8f37a8_zps28238790You feel it inside. To know what love is, one must know hate. To know what life is, one must know death. And finally, to know happiness, one must know sadness.

Some of the most inspiring people I know have gone through loss, have lived through times of sadness, and yes, lost love. My grandma, the most inspiring person I know is one of these special people. She had a young love many, many years ago. She still talks of him, the love of her life.

He was working in Illinois when she was living in Wisconsin. He was tall, dark, and handsome with the kindest heart is how she describes my grandpa to me. One day, she found out she was pregnant and like many at that time marriage soon followed.

The day they were married, he was to meet her in Wisconsin. The whole time she waited, months, her mother said he won’t show up, “he’s not coming.” She told her mom that he would be there, and she believed in him. She loves him still as he is gone. The day they were to get married, he was five minutes late, “I forgot the ring and had to go back.” They got married and had five children. My mom was the baby.

But, something happened. Something terrible happened. A furnace blew up while he was working on it in the house. The burns were so bad, that they took my grandma’s love from her and left her with their five children. Sadness.

Today, my grandma is the most inspiring woman I know. How? She’s gone through a lot and has learned that love lives on. It lives on in all of us. She is a special person because throughout all the sadness, she remains happy-grateful for the time she had with him. To know happiness, one must know sadness. She is one of the happiest people I know. She’s grateful for the happy memories she had with him, her love.

I think that’s what happiness and living is about. Cherishing the precious moments you can hold onto for a lifetime. He may be gone, but he is forever in my grandma’s heart. I know he is watching over her from heaven.

When she talks of him today, and I see those beautiful pictures from the past, her eyes always light up. Life, to me, is defined by the love we carry with us and the happiness that those loved ones and memories bring us. Love will always live on and I’ve learned to hold onto moments, moments with the love of my life. I know happiness, because I know what sadness is. The faster we learn to be grateful and love, the happier our lives will be.