I sprung from my bed on Dec. 20 and had a rush of warm air flow over me. The thermometer read 70 degrees, so I threw on some shorts and decided to take a walk.
Leading up to the holidays, I've driven to work in the dark and driven back in the dark, gone to Christmas parties, frequented malls and have been glued in front of the TV watching football on Sundays.
The one thing I hadn't done is appreciate the beauty of the area around me.
It was refreshing to know that just a week before Christmas that I could be out in shorts. It was like I had been transported back to September for a day, and it looked like that was the case as I hoofed it past the old PTL tower.
Not a thing has changed with that decrepit shack in several months, despite assurances to the contrary. But this was a sunny, gorgeous day and there was no time to feel glum about promises broken and the messy matters of zoning laws.
No. It was time to appreciate the deer I saw bounding in the distance. The glistening of dew off of a well groomed putting surface. The chirping of robins huddled in nests just a few short days ago. The whimsical fluttering of a hummingbird. The beautiful white clouds against a backdrop of Carolina Blue skies.
All of these things have been around me for months, and only now, on this wonderfully warm day, was I able to enjoy them.
As I walked, I knew that the coming days would be filled with the rites of holidays. And before long, the looks of children joyfully opening presents, the scents of cookies and pies, the flickering lights on the Christmas tree, would all be gone in a flash and another year would be closing. And so for two hours and several miles, I took my stroll outside and cherished it.
It doesn't matter if I make New Year's resolutions and stick to them. It doesn't matter that I will reach a milestone birthday in 2010, one my wife has already passed. It doesn't matter that time flies by at the speed of the now defunct Concorde.
What mattered is that I stopped and smelled the roses without worrying about what I had to do the next day, or what was going on at work, or anything else. For two hours I was at complete peace.
As this holiday season concludes, I was given the best gift of the year. Not one that was bought. Not one that was wished for. One that has been with me the entire time. Only this time, I noticed.
Have a happy New Year and may you be fortunate enough to notice the little things in life before they pass you by.