Juste ce qu’il faut

How much is just enough? Not so long ago, it seemed I was always wanting more: friends, money, success, travel…a new this, an updated that. Now, suddenly, something is different. I still feel this way at times but lately I find myself thinking that happiness is having just what you need. Or needing what you have.

As the dark days before the winter solstice grow colder and ever shorter, it is important to think about the things have brightened our lives over the year. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy keeping an advent calendar. For each of its 24 days this month I have written down a word that sums up something – or someone – that has made my life happier.

I am lucky to have a great deal to be grateful for; it has been a full year, a good year. Not without moments of sadness and regret. Those bittersweet times are there to remind us just how lucky we are when all the rest is good.

Here are a few of the things that I am especially grateful for this Christmas:

This great big, wonderful world. We went to four islands this year, each of them special and unique in different ways. New Year’s was in Curaçao, a curious and beautiful place indeed. And it was amazing to be able to enjoy this exotic destination in the company of my Canadian family, including my Dad and brother, their better-halves and our kids. Our island adventures this year also included a writing retreat for me in Pantelleria, Italy; a first-ever trip out west to Vancouver and a romantic anniversary week on Madeira.

The people who got us there and back. Even in years when we don’t travel as much, there are still a lot of comings and goings with our jobs and family in different countries and continents. I never go anywhere without mentally preparing for disaster on some level (fingers permanently crossed). And yet, despite a tense couple of landings and a few delayed suitcases, we have all made it home in one piece. I am grateful to all of the hard-working pilots and drivers of planes, trains, buses and taxis who got us there and back. And all those who support them. They don’t hear it enough.

The memories we share. I am both old enough to have a lot of memories and young enough to look forward to making new ones. Also fortunate to have family and friends who remember too. This year, my husband unearthed a box of old cassette tapes from when our kids were small and sent them to be digitized; we are looking forward to watching this marathon memory movie over the holidays. To be in this position, to be able to share those memories, strikes me as very rich indeed. And I would like to share a thought for all those who suffer from dementia and other forms of brain disease.

My blogging buddies. This community we have here on WordPress is something I never imagined would bring so much joy to my life. I originally started this blog as a way to connect with people of similar interests with the idea of getting a book published. It hasn’t happened yet, but each week of writing, reading and commenting on my fellow bloggers’ posts brings me immense satisfaction and a sense of connection. It is a privilege to know you guys!

Family and friends. You know who you are. Thank you for putting up with me. I love you all.

And there are so many more. But how about I kick over to you: what are you grateful for?

25 thoughts on “Juste ce qu’il faut

  1. This is lovely. Your Advent calendar truly honors the spirit of the season.
    I also don’t want anything material. It’s similar to that feeling of having eaten enough, or even too much, and no longer having appetite for even the most tantalizing treats.
    I just heard the most adorable Christmas album–all new songs, rollicking rock-a-billy, nothing schmalzy–from JD McPherson. It’s called “Socks,” which kind of hints at the down-to-earth style. And the song I loved, and that echoes your post, is “All the Gifts I Need.” (Though the one about Christmas sweaters is pretty funny.)

    1. Thanks for your kind words — and the album is a real treat! I have already scoped it out on Spotify and added to my Christmas playlist. Rollicking and down-to-earth sounds just right to me. Wishing you everything you need for the holidays and a joyous entry into 2019!

  2. Being content with what we have is a trait that has all but disappeared. It doesn’t mean not striving, but not always wanting more. Of course the global economy would collapse of people stopped buying things they don’t really need, but I feel that if there was more contentment there would be less anger and violence in the world. My Christmas wish – I don’t need anything else. 🙂

    1. What a lovely wish, and next time I find myself considering adding something ‘extra’ to my list, I will remember it. Thanks for chiming in, now and so often throughout the year. And wishing a just what you need for a comfortably content Christmas. Bises!

  3. A lovely post. My year’s highlight was the family holiday spent together in France during this year’s incredibly hot summer. I will remember it forever – a week of exploring, cooking outdoors and playing seemingly endless pool ‘tournaments’ in the evenings. And tomorrow our daughter returns from Uni for Christmas, the first time she’s been home for three months. I’m so excited! I wish this feeling on everyone I know: the true joy of being with the people that mean the most to you x

    1. How lovely that holiday memory sounds! I think the part of Christmas I enjoy most is the anticipation of it all. Wishing you and your family a lovely reunion and a bright new year ahead!

    1. Thanks, Garfield! 😍 I very much enjoy your warmth, authenticity and sense of humour. Who would have thought we could share so many laughs between our devices all over the world, eh?

  4. I agree with you that at one point in life we become content with what we have. Sometimes, it is good to let go of certain things (either physical or moral). There is a catharsis feeling of realizing that you don’t need much to be happy. Glad you have had a good year fill with all kind of good moments. (Suzanne)

    1. Ah, that letting go part is not always easy! But you are right, it is cathartic. Thanks for your wishes, Suzanne, and to both you and Pierre, all the very best of the holidays and a new year filled with new adventures!

  5. What a GREAT idea to keep an advent calendar of gratitude. I’m going to do that for January which is a month that could do with remembering good things rather than just hanging on for dear life to the shortest month of winter. Lovely post.

    1. Thanks Susanne! I hope it brightens your January which — let’s face it — is often the worst month of the Canadian winter. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a bright start to 2019!

    1. Oh, that means a lot, Colin. As a writer yourself, you must know how much we hold on to each word of encouragement. Wishing you all the best of the holiday season, and ‘bon courage’ with the next book!

  6. Oh Mel, this is so beautiful. I have been a crap blogger friend of late but not for want of trying to get there. Life is bittersweet indeed and I love your grateful attitude, your enduring witty humour and beautiful turn of phrase. Whilst I still love beautiful things, I have also been feeling a sufficiency of the ‘material’. Time with those we love and amazing experiences are so much more rewarding. Merry Christmas and I look forward to your book. Xx

    1. Christmas came early when I read this, Lisa! 🥰 There are no bad blogger friends — just those whose lives get in the way at times, which surely makes the contributions all the more heart felt. I do hope to read you more often in 2019; while I don’t always find time to try out your recipes, a few have become regular favourites for our family. Bonnes fêtes! xo

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