“Maya” Holiday Aha

Posted December 12, 2011 by jimhigley

This was going to be my December to get on top of all the year-end, holiday tasks. I was determined to tackle all those to-do things methodically and with the precision of a surgeon’s hand.

On top of that list was putting up my outside Christmas holiday lights.

Now, my light display is pretty simple. It involves one tree by our front door. That’s it. The tree’s about as tall as our two-story house so it’s nothing to sneeze at. And dolling it up for the holidays involves a couple ladders and a lot of hand-wrist action that draws from my very limited cowboying lasso days. Call it a two hour job. Three tops.

You’d think I could have found a window somewhere in the last few weeks to squeeze that project in.

Instead, I’ve let my time get filled with way too many other things. Things I’m worrying over. Things I’m fretting about. Things that cause me to lay in bed at night and let my head spin. And that’s been my last few weeks.

So yesterday I tripped over the boxes of Christmas lights stacked in the garage one too many times. And, on an afternoon that I thought was going to be filled with running errands, grocery shopping, laundry and bill paying, I found myself in my front yard tackling the one project that I was beginning to fear would not get done this year.

Quickly, however, I realized this was going to take longer than I had planned. During the last year, those strings of lights I neatly put away last January had somehow managed to entangle themselves like a circus contortionist. What used to be – I’m certain – organized and bundled groupings of lights had now snaked themselves together in ways that rivaled Charlotte’s web.

And in the process of pulling, yanking and shattering light bulbs, I realized that this box of lights was feeling a lot like my past few weeks. A big, tangled mess. And I started a private pity party in my front yard.

But, a faint light went off in my head. I remembered a poem written by Maya Angelou many years ago where she made a brilliant reference to tangled Christmas tree lights. The poem made such an impact on me at the time that I saved it. Somewhere.

That somewhere turned out to be on my desk, in a drawer, where I found it a few minutes later. And sure enough – her wise words were as meaningful today as they were when I first read them many years ago.

I’ve learned that no matter what happens,
or how bad it seems today,
life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person
by the way he/she handles these three things:
– a rainy day,
– lost luggage,
– and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship
with your parents,
you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

I’ve learned that making a living
is not the same thing as making a life.

I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you
a second chance.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life
with a catcher’s mitt on both hands;
you need to be able to throw something back.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something
With an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I’ve learned that even when I have pains,
I don’t need to be one.

I’ve learned that every day you should reach out
and touch someone. People love a warm hug,
or just a friendly pat on the back.

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.


After reading that, I went back out to my boxes of lights. Still tangled.

But I had a new attitude plugged in. This is going to be a good holiday.