Something happened this holiday that I am still pondering. Circumstances surrounding Christmas meant that instead of bringing a few items to our annual potluck family dinner, I ended up cooking almost all of it. While my sister’s family usually does the turkey and the main dishes (I usually take care of the veggie tray and dessert), this year she was sick. So I cooked the turkey, the side dishes, one of the desserts, the bread… (my son and his lady brought up a delicious ham and another dessert).
I was worried about getting everything done at the right time, but it worked out. I even managed to change into my brand new lace dress that I had bought specifically for Christmas dinner.
After dinner, other family members cleared the table, putting the dirty dishes and leftovers into the kitchen, and we played a card game. I won the first round of it, and stopped playing for a while. One of the things that I did was go to the kitchen, start putting up some of the food, get the dirty dishes rinsed and into the dishwasher, etc. Then I went back and played some more card games. When we finished playing, and most everybody had left, I continued cleaning up. There was still some work to do, but I had stopped and was looking at what I had done, and what I had left to do.
I was feeling quite satisfied, and happy. I had gotten a lot done in a short amount of time, and only had a few more things to do. It had been a lovely dinner, an enjoyable time and an easy clean-up, even tho I was the only one doing it.
Another relative came up beside me. She looked at the same thing I was looking at. Her attitude, however, was very different from mine. While I was thinking “Wow! I got a lot done in such a short time! Just a few more minutes and I will be finished!” she made a comment something to the effect of how much work and time it takes to clean up after a dinner, and how much work she usually has to put in after a holiday dinner to clear away and clean up. I hadn’t thought of it as WORK at all. It was just something that needed to be done, and I was the one best suited to do it this year. So I did it.
My perception of her feelings and attitude, based on her comments, were so diametrically opposed to what I was actually feeling that this incident has stayed with me. What she seemed to view as a difficult chore, I had seen as a needed and almost enjoyable task. I had enjoyed listening to everyone else having fun playing while I was cleaning up. Although I did have to do a little scrubbing on the stove, most of the clean-up was easy.
But I wondered if the clean-up was easy to me because of my attitude. I had had fun playing, but the clean-up needed to be done. I didn’t feel sorry for myself for leaving the games to clean, I enjoyed listening to everyone else play, laugh, and talk. My attitude made a difference between feeling as though I was working all alone at a difficult chore, and enjoying what I was doing.
I’ve wondered since then – how can I bring that type of positive attitude to the things that I do find onerous chores? There are many things in my life that I have difficulty doing – I view them as work, as hard and difficult, as almost impossible tasks. But how much of those feelings are reality, and how much is my attitude? If my attitude towards these tasks changed, would the difficulty of doing them change as well? This is something I will continue to ponder – and attempt to change – for the future.
Here is to a positive attitude! May it make things easier in the months to come.