My little sister’s birthday is just before Christmas. Because I’m not completely crazy, I usually buy her gift online and have it shipped right to her or send something small, like a gift card, that I can just slide into a card and throw into my mailbox. But this year I messed up. I bought something I had to mail at the post office.

Normally a trip to the post office is no big deal, but two weeks before Christmas, on fresh snow, with a knee brace and cane (thanks to a recent knee injury), it was a terrible idea. On the day I made my trek, I inched my car into an unplowed parking spot and limped into the post office with my arms full of packages and Christmas cards in need of stamps. Inside the post office, the line for the counter stretched around the retail space and all the way out to the door. Even the automated machine had a line. I took my place at the back of the line, packages teetering and knee throbbing, and I was struck by just how silent it was for a room full of people. Everyone was patient, at least outwardly, and the postal employees were doing everything possible to keep the line moving, but it was clear that nobody was happy to be there.

Then, all at once, the mood in the post office changed when a young mother walked in with a chunky, smiling baby. It was as if someone turned on the lights and we all woke up. A couple ladies in line near the baby entertained her with coos and an impromptu game of peek-a-boo. People started talking to each other, smiling and laughing. It was like the baby waved her pudgy hands and we went from grey sludge winter to holiday magic. The change in the atmosphere was dramatic.

As I limped back to my car, I started thinking about my attitude. Am I going through life outwardly patient, head down, focused on juggling my to-do list, or am I looking for the simple joys all around me? A baby’s smile, a fond memory, an inside joke – these are the things that light up the everyday moments of our lives. Look for joy and for chances to bring joy to others. You’ll still have to wait in line, but you’ll have a lot more fun!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13