Aloha is....receiving this Christmas photo from my family on the East Coast.
Do you remember waking up to the wonder and magic of Christmas morning? If you don't, this is what it looks like.
Before I can even peel the layers of blankets off my body and drag myself out of bed for a full day of cooking, I hear the "ping" of my cell phone. When I open it up, I see it's a text from my younger brother in Connecticut with this photo of my nieces, Ella (11) and Julia (6), and my nephew, Jace (9), which makes my heart warm on an otherwise cold, damp and gloomy morning in San Diego.
I love that they're still in their pajamas, standing in front of a real tree, decorated with homemade ornaments and surrounded by presents still wrapped, but ready to be torn into. What makes this beautiful picture complete is Julia's big, less toothy grin! She's now missing four front teeth between her top and bottom rows, but that doesn't hold her back from sharing her joy and excitement while sending her love to me from across the miles. And, for that I am so grateful.
When you can't be close to the ones you love during the holidays, staying connected - even if by text and photos - does wonders for your mind, body and spirit. Seeing the smiles of children - especially children you know - can elicit an immediate smile from anyone, even from someone with the homesick holiday blues like me. And, smiling has many health benefits!
According to an article by BringHealth.com, smiling releases endorphins (your body's own natural feel-good chemical), which helps a person feel happier and more positive. In fact, a Scientific American study found that facial expressions, such as smiling, can improve one’s mood and increase positive thoughts. Smiling can also lower blood pressure, boost your immune system and even help relieve some body aches and pains, again, by releasing your endorphins.*
What a wonderful gift to get on Christmas. I am so lucky to have these children in my life and for having a loving family who always manage to keep me present in their lives, even from way over here. I know it's about to be a crazy day for them going house to house, visiting both sides of the family. So, it means so much to me for them to stop for a moment to take this photo and send it my way to let me know they're thinking of me and missing me, too.
Live, Love and Lead with Aloha!
Source: "7 Health Benefits of Smiling" (BrightSpringHealth.com)