The holiday season is upon us so this week I have decided to take a break from nutrition posts and focus on the  “A” in L.E.A.N. – Attitude.  All over Facebook I see friends posting about gratitude – gratitude for people, experiences, things.  Whatever the focus, they are grateful.  That is what attitude is all about. – having a positive outlook and living life to the fullest.

Having a good attitude this time of year should be easy right?  This is the season of giving, receiving, family gatherings, laughter, yummy smelling baked goods, and hugs.  But there is almost always some frustration, short tempers, sadness, and exhaustion that accompany the season.  The negative attitude starts early and winds its way through our holiday season if we let it.  Anyone can fall victim.

I was in the parking lot of Walmart the other day putting Keegan in his carseat and laughing with him – we had just finished a fun trip through Walmart getting more cabinet locks for the kitchen.  Then it happened.  I saw a woman about my age push her cart past our car to her van.  She loaded her toddler, who appeared to be in good spirits, and her bags into the van and drove off.  She left her cart in the middle of the parking lot even though the cart return was approximately 15 steps away from her van.  In the matter of a few seconds I was internally seething.  Why couldn’t she take the extra 5 seconds to walk the cart to the cart return?  Why did she have to leave the cart in the middle of a space? Why was she teaching her toddler that this behavior is ok?  I got myself so worked up that I finished buckling Keegan and myself and drove away.  I left the cart where it was, even though it would have taken me just an extra 5 seconds to walk it to the cart return.  I taught my toddler that it was ok to just leave the cart in the middle of a space and I allowed my previously happy day to be sidetracked – all over a cart in the parking lot.  It just took a minute or two to stop and think about how I had over-reacted and to realize that I knew nothing about that woman and her situation.  What if she had a sick child at home?  What if she was caring for an aging parent and only had a couple of minutes to make her run to Walmart?  What if she was simply having a rotten day and forgot to return the cart?

Needless to say, I was not proud of my attitude or actions that day.  I let the one of my pet peeves get the better of me.  I forgot to think of others before myself.  So here is my first challenge to you this holiday season: Don’t forget to think about a situation from all perspectives.  Don’t assume you know what is going on in someone else’s life.  Give them the benefit of the doubt, even if it isn’t always easy.

The next day Keegan and I were getting some things done around the house.  At least, that was the plan.  Plans with toddlers rarely go smoothly, there are usually hiccups.  The hiccup of the day – Keegan decided he would spend ALL day screaming in displeasure.  If I picked him up he wanted to be put down.  If I put him down, he wanted to be picked up.  If I tried to feed him he didn’t want to eat.  He bit me multiple times while he nursed.  The list goes on and on.  I was frazzled and near tears; he was in tears.  Then, that moment happened when I managed to take a step away from the situation – that moment that stopped the tears and changed my attitude.  I remembered that for five years I would have given ANYTHING to have a screaming baby, to be frazzled, to be bitten while nursing, to be exhausted because it meant that I had a child to hold, to feed, to nurse, to listen to.  I spent five years in pain every day because we weren’t able to grow our family.  In that moment I remembered that there are so many families out there who are praying and wishing for a frazzled day with a cranky toddler because it would mean that they finally had the child they had been hoping and praying for.  I looked down at my cranky toddler who was not peacefully nursing in my arms.  I looked in his eyes and I felt peace and gratitude.  Not surprisingly as I felt peace and gratitude wash over me Keegan began to settle and drifted peacefully into a 2-hour nap.  We usually nap together but that day I stayed awake for about 30 minutes watching my son – the little dreaming smiles, the little hand holding my hand, the little feet that were nestled in the crook of my arm – bliss.

My second challenge to you in this holiday season is to be grateful even when it seems that you have nothing to be grateful for – when you are at your most harried be grateful.  Remember that someone, somewhere would give ANYTHING to be in your situation because your situation would mean less sadness, less pain, less uncertainty, just less.

I hope from the bottom of my heart that you and your family have a peaceful holiday season.  A holiday season that is filled with understanding, acceptance, good fellowship, and lasting memories.