A new year has begun, and familiar anxieties have set in. These ‘usual blues’ are now compounded by Omicron. Gone are my days of innocence when a new year bring fresh hope and joy. I supposed I am not the only one. ‘What gifts will this year bring?’ Someone reminded me over our festive celebrations to feast on gratitude.

Gratitude can be our game changer. It can be the star that rises above every gift we crave for in life. Gratitude can be our guiding star. Over every Christmas season, we are not promised gifts of earthly riches but of love, peace, joy, and hope. Having experience life with its sting in its tail, these are lasting gifts. They last because over time, they evolve to become inner calm and contentment; fool-proof gifts that protect us from our anxieties in life.

Gratitude helps to uncover the many unseen blessings in our life however wretched we may think life to be. Gratitude breeds contentment. Life is allowed to turn sour when we keep chasing in the dark for what we desperately want, or think we need that will make us happy. Feast on gratitude, she said, by spending time in meditation. ‘Who’ we already are will shine light on the darkness of our desires and fears.

Part of anxiety is fear. Fear is being afraid of something bad that may happen to us. Anxiety displaces us from our here and now. It pushes us into a tomorrow that is yet to happen. Often that fearful tomorrow never comes. I have been through many anxieties, many Monday and New Year blues, but looking back hardly any became the frightening monster it threatened to become. Contemplating, sitting in the here and now helps.

It is in the here and now that love is felt, peace found, and joy experienced. In them hope arises to replace fears. The presence of the Infant Child can only be encountered and felt in the present. It is not for yesterday or tomorrow. God is “I AM” present in the here and now. Gratitude can be the antidote to anxieties.

These gifts have been brought to all of us by the Infant Child, to believers and non-believers in equal portions. Here in non-Christian Thailand, it is nice to see so many people celebrate the joys of Christmas especially in its tradition of bearing gifts to one another. It is in our relationships with one another where these gifts are manifested.

The past week of Christmas and New Year celebrations allowed us to situate ourselves in the here and now. In that week of festivities and cheers, few wanted to dwell in the past or worry about the future. We were all just filled with gratitude.

And gratitude must be the star to lead us on our journey in life, our journey of faith like that of the wise men. The festive cheers have toned down, but we must continue to feast on gratitude.

“A silent wish sails the seven seas. The winds of change whisper in the trees. And the walls of doubt crumble, tossed and torn. This comes to pass when a Child is born.”

The Epiphany of our Lord and New Year 2022