At least I won’t have to mow the yard for a while.

Earlier this week I decided to find something positive about our polar plunge and way-too-early snow, but my lawn observation was the best I could muster. Finding anything at all positive about this sort of weather, however, is a huge step forward for me.

I owe my barely rosy but still solidly frozen state of mind to our pastor’s message last Sunday. In a nutshell, what I took away from it was encouragement to incorporate joy into my life.

It was a very appropriate message, I thought, and it definitely does reinforce my overall approach to life. One of my favorite quotes makes that very point, and its one I think about often. The quote is attributed to Abraham Lincoln, noting that “I reckon most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Despite all that, the dark frozen tundra of winter makes happiness and uphill battle for me.

Last Sunday Pastor Nico recommend that, instead of saying “I have to do” something, to instead think of it as “I get to do” whatever it is. That’s good advice, for sure.

But with all due respect to Pastor Nico, as I looked out the window Monday afternoon at the white horror piling up atop the sleety ice coating the ground and roadways, I could not get myself to joyfully say “I get to leave my warm house soon, go out and trudge through this repugnant powder, slip and slide on the roadway trying to dodge the idiots who are going too fast and forgot how to drive in the snow, get wind-driven icy snowflakes in my eyes and down the back of my coat, and have my eyeglasses fog over once I get inside the church for the ham and turkey fundraising dinner.”

Try as I might, the best I could muster was my observation of being spared a battle with the Great Black Swamp grass.

At least my positive leaning state of mind allowed me to put aside thoughts of the tortures to which I would love to subject Mother Nature, and focus on the fellowship of our church members as we prepared to serve the meal, which helps support the missions of the church.

It’s only been a year since Diane and I started attending the Pulaski United Methodist Church, but we already feel very much at home there. We have made many new friends and established deeper connections with ones whom we’ve known for a while. At this point I could say, “I get to spend the late afternoon and evening with a great bunch of people.”

Despite the inclement weather outside the mood inside the church was very upbeat. The food smelled incredible – our church has great cooks – and the pumpkin pie and cranberries I had as a quick snack before serving began really hit the spot.

Before the doors opened we wondered how badly the winter storm would impact our attendance. I must confess I was not very optimistic, believing most people would elect to stay home rather than battle the elements.

I smiled as people began arriving even before the advertised starting time for the serving, and smiled even more broadly as they kept coming, and coming, and coming.

My job was to serve turkey as people came through the line, and I kept thanking them for coming out in the storm. I was struck with how many people complemented the great food, and said they weren’t going to stay home and cook when they could get a wonderful meal here.

As the evening wore on, and I greeted many acquaintances as they came through the line, the white misery outside actually was creating a bonding experience with the crowd. I now fully incorporating Nico’s advice, and actually thinking, “I get to serve these wonderful people, and support the church.”

I will have to confess, however, that when the evening was over I did not say “I get to go out and have the north wind blow icy snowflakes into my face, and scrape off the car and go slip-sliding home among the idiots.”

But on the positive side I did not curse Old Man Winter as deeply as the situation normally would have dictated, and I did find joy in putting on my warm pajamas and sitting in front of the television for a while before heading to bed.

And I will continue to try to find joy in my hiatus from endless hours on the lawn tractor, winter now giving me a break from keeping the Great Black Swamp at bay.

Don Allison is a Williams County native, author, columnist and retired editor of The Bryan Times.

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