Every Christmas season, I desperately try to capture the same feelings I had as a child during the holidays. But they always elude me and I feel let down, just like Charlie Brown. It’s no wonder that so many of us are disappointed – every holiday movie leads you to think that big miracles happen all the time at Christmas. The truth is, big miracles are rare but what we really need to do is appreciate the very small delights, the ones we don’t chase after.

Last night brought a moment of magic that no amount of watching It’s a Wonderful Life could muster up. After a light dusting of snow had fallen, I was walking my dog Gizzy. A half-moon illuminated the snow, making the night even brighter. The only sound was the crunching of snowy grass under our feet/paws. Then I heard it – “Hoo, wa, hoo, hoo, hoo” in the distance. An owl! Not so unusual for my neighborhood to hear an occasional “hoot” coming from the woods at night. Then I heard another “Hoo, wa, hoo, hoo, hoo” in the trees over our heads. I strained to see if I could spot the bird. I had never seen an owl so I was excited to be presented with this opportunity. But Gizzy wasn’t pleased with standing quietly still. He began to play tug-of-war with his leash, creating a rustle that stopped the birds’ communication. I shortened the leash and managed to settle him down and, thankfully, the back-and-forth hooting resumed.

Then I saw a dark image moving in the trees. It was huge with tufts of feathers sticking out on its head. A Great Horned Owl!  I stood in awe at this beautiful site of nature that I could never attain from all of my desire to “find Christmas.” The moment was disrupted by my frisky, bad boy who loves the snow and began his tugging antics once more. The owl heard us so close to him, spread his wings and flew over our heads for us to see his majesty.  Wow!

I guess Thoreau was right when he said, “Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”