When the little lights aren’t twinkling

There are two kinds of people in the world. Glass half full and glass half empty. Life is great. Life is hard. People are mean. People are great. Those who look at the upside and those who look at the downside.

Me? My natural bent…I’m a melancholy. Naturally I lean in the pessimistic side…I use to call myself more of a realist but the more I have grown and learned to choose joy and to choose optimism and hope over the latter the more I have realized that at the end of the day it’s perspective.  Whether your bent is positive or negative ultimately you get to choose which way you respond, live, love, grow, change, hope, expect.

It’s Christmas time and one of my all time favorite movies ever is Christmas vacation. I love the music, I love the crazy family dynamics, I love the relatable weirdness that this movie lets us be a part of. As I watched it again for the 900th time I found a part that really spoke to me about different personality traits and what it looks like from the outside looking in:

20,000 lights.

Hours of preparation, stapling, ladders, hammers….poor Clarke Griswold waits 11 months to put up his spectacular lighting extravaganza only to have his work result in a giant flop of darkness. After checking and rechecking lights, trying various troubleshooting along with the help of his brilliant wife who realizes the switch has yet to be flipped …and then


20,000 lights..lighting up the neighborhood, the city and half the planet . Clark exuberantly invites the entire family to join him in the cold winter air (in their pi’s) to behold the glorious site he had struggled to accomplish …kind comments from wife Ellen, daughter, son, mother, father, mother in law..and then came his father in law

“The little lights aren’t twinkling Clarke”

Not – “Hey good job” “That looks like a lot of work” “Wow, you must be so proud”…nope …a comment that said something more like “It’s not perfect so it’s not good enough”

Okay do you know him? Not Clarkes father in law…but what/who he represents? The glass half empty. The negative Nelly. The Debby Downer. The ultimate pessimist. The critical spirit. The “It could be …should be this way or that way”. The endless opinion giver.  The one who can’t see the sun behind the rain.

Do you know them?  Ever been them?

Maybe you know someone like them in your life, family, a friend, co worker?

Maybe you’ve been them.

Maybe you don’t want to be around them.

Maybe your relationships struggle because you are them.

I remember being this. I can vividly remember times in my life where nothing was right in my perspective. I couldn’t see good if I tried. I couldn’t accept compliments. I couldn’t see the sun, I could only see rain. It was as if I refused to see anything but the struggle. As a natural melancholy I have had to work a little harder at seeing things through a different lens. It is a choice….it really is and I can honestly say it has become more natural to see things positively..now.

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen

When you are going through a struggle it can be laborious to see things in a brighter way than what they are…however instead of focusing on what is not I have learned to focus on what is.

The father in law in Christmas vacation was looking at what was not

…he was right – the little lights weren’t twinkling…they were on though.

Have you been here? Noticing what isn’t …instead of what is? Noticing the flashiness that is missing and haven’t noticed what is on…what is in front of you…what you have been given…

There will always be things out of place. There will always be those places that are yet to be perfect…whether it is that struggle with your health, money, relationships, the not perfect…you fill in the blank…and yet life can still be seen through the lens of what is rather than what isn’t.

I have been pretty candid here on my blog about my struggle with my health…it’s not perfect…it is difficult…it’s not sparkling…but there are a lot of lights on …bright ones and if I focus on the places that are not I will miss what is.

When the little lights aren’t twinkling don’t miss noticing the ones that are actually on.