Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I'm in need of a little happiness. Something to look forward to. Something that I know will make me smile.

As the years go by it seems to me that the list of things that make me truly happy have grown shorter. I am more selective in the food that I eat and the wine that I drink and the people I choose to spend time with. This means that when I am happy it is a high quality happiness that lingers in the memory. It also means that happiness isn't something that happens every day.

Last year was particularly empty of happiness; too much death and grief for happiness to do anything more that show its face in small moments of forgetfulness, like a ghost speaking to me when I dreamed.

The moment of happiness that I cherish from last year was given to me by my wife. We've been together for more than thirty years. After a while it becomes hard to know what to buy each other for Christmas. I'm particularly difficult as I tend to buy the books and films that I enjoy as the year goes along. This year, my wife was determined to find me something different. She hit upon the theme of the 12 days of Christmas. She bought me 12 gifts, each representing one of the items in the song. Most of them were sweats of various kinds. Each of them was wrapped and tagged with a hand made label.

It was a simple idea that I knew must have been fiendishly difficult to execute.

As I opened the presents one after another, I found myself delighted by the ingenuity and wit behind each item. By the 7th day of Christmas I was laughing; a deep loud, open-throated laugh of untempered pleasure. It had been a very long time since anything made me laugh like that.

The 12 days of Christmas came wrapped in love and attention and brought me the gift of release from the weight of the emotional debris I'd been dragging after me for the past few years.

This is a moment of happiness that I treasure.

It made me realise how rare happiness is and how hard the sources of it are to find.

I'd like to hear what makes you happy: what brought you pleasure last year, what you are looking forward to this year, what kind of thing do you associate with personal happiness.

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