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Every year the writing of the Christmas letter sneaks up on me in the same manner my self-evaluation at work does… knowingly needing to be done at the exact same time every year,demanding a modicum of vulnerability, and in the midst of hundreds of other demands. Not knowing where to begin is the hardest part. Inspiration is sought, sometimes wrestled to the ground. As I sit down to write this I’m inspired by the beautiful card that was selected based on the words not covering up the children’s faces with a greeting of JOY!

What is joy? It’s the birth of a child or your wedding day. It doesn’t have to be so big either, since those things come a few times in a lifetime. Joy is in the everyday too. All of this thought about joy prompted me to pull a book from the shelf that I’ve had for 7+ years and never read. My mom gifted “The Joy Diet” by Martha Beck to me. (Sorry, Mom, I promise I will read it!) Shamefully, I paged through it at the time and thought, “Who has time for a Joy Diet?” (For the record, moms know best.) We embrace our Joy Diet to sustain us through the sorrow of life.

My Husband (37 for 5 more days) takes pleasure in playing hard. He is the favorite jungle gym in our neighborhood and always a great sport. He takes joy in his daily runs. Not to live in excess, he works hard too. This is his 16th season with the professional hockey team where his favorite activities include taking players to schools, hospitals, and community events and helping his interns develop for a sports marketing career (or help them decide that they should not). He also enjoys books whenever he can. He has been spotted downtown at lunchtime reading his book while walking on the sidewalk.

Ruth (37 for 5 more days plus 11 hours) loves to experience the simple joys of life. Whether it is the pleasure of wearing comfortable shoes or the warmth I feel when Littles compliments my accessories of the day, I savor it. I think the children actually have a score sheet for compliments and complaints to ensure there is a balance to the gags and “This is disgusting”s associated with dinnertime. There may be a small amount of delight in a being the parent and demanding they try the disgusting meal anyway.

Bigs (6) delights in going to Kindergarten. His favorite parts are riding the bus and recess. He is also an emerging reader who would like to be more proficient so as to be able to read any book he wants, but alas we all need practice. One of his favorite things to do right now is ask Google questions. I’m not sure what parents did before Google as the questions are not ones we know answers to, like what is the temperature of the sun and is Australia both an island and a continent? When he grows up he is going to be a hockey player.

Littles (4) finds joy in everything. Although when we share our highs and lows of the day, she always starts with, “The bad part of my day was…” What captivates me about this habit is that once she has said it, she lets it go. Littles loves to play with dolls of all sizes: baby dolls, Barbies, Bratz, Polly Pockets, and superheroes. She also enjoys coloring, using tape or glue, and making art projects. When Littles grows up she is going to be a mommy and a scientist.

What will your Joy Diet be in the coming year? Whatever it might be, may it fill you up with all that is life giving.