Matt Knutson: Now is the time to go searching for happiness

Published 9:16 am Friday, December 2, 2016

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“I don’t understand how you can love shoes that much,” I told my wife after she had left to grab the boxes of new shoes she had ordered from the front door. It was 11 p.m. and we were laying in bed when she noticed the email in her inbox from the shipping company saying the shoes had arrived. Very few things would be deemed worthwhile for me to get out of bed for, and new shoes wouldn’t be anywhere near the top.

It wasn’t just that she left the bed to grab the shoes, it was her exclamation and the rush to the front door that made me chuckle in amazement. I wonder if that was how my wife behaved as a little girl on Christmas morning. Of course on Christmas, the presents were actually there under the tree. Sera moped back to our room at 11:01 p.m. with no shoe boxes in her arms. It turns out she had them shipped to her workplace, where they were safely waiting for her to pick up after the Thanksgiving holiday. I think my wife’s heart shrank three sizes upon this discovery.

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I must admit, receiving packages in the mail, even if you ordered them and paid for them, does feel a lot like getting a gift on Christmas. So often I forget what I’ve ordered that I genuinely don’t know what is in the box we occasionally find sitting on the doorstep, even though I ordered it earlier in the week. Don’t you wish you could just capture that moment of wonder sometimes?

We’ll try to capture that moment of wonder this year when our daughter experiences Christmas for the first time. She’ll be nearly 11 months old by then, and though her grasp of Santa Claus may be a bit lacking, her passion for destroying things is at an all-time high. There’s been hints of this new-found passion appearing over the last few weeks, but it was the tissue paper that so carefully protected my wife’s new boots which brought out this emotion. Our normally active, easily distracted daughter sat for probably half an hour intently tearing the tissue paper to shreds. I was too caught up in her passion to notice the enormous mess Gracelyn was making until I returned to the bedroom after her bedtime.

The shoebox eventually became her playground when there was nothing left to shred. I imagined for my daughter that at first we were sailing a boat in the open water and later piloting a space craft in a galaxy far, far away. She was more interested in finding the escape hatch.

So while I initially chided my wife when I learned she ordered new shoes in the first place, and later reveled in her lost joy when they weren’t at the front door, I suppose we got a lot more than new shoes when they did finally arrive at our house. Sera received some new footwear, Gracelyn experienced the fun that comes with unwrapping a gift, and I had the pleasure of seeing my two girls happy for one reason or another.

Happiness comes in a variety of forms, and it’s just lurking around the corner this holiday season. Don’t be afraid to take a peek and see what may be around your corner. If you’re looking for some happiness, now is the time to go searching for it. Whether it be the rainy days that turn into the first snowfall or the lights that twinkle as they adorn your Christmas tree, don’t be afraid of the unanticipated happiness that can appear quite literally at your feet. And when it does appear, share it. They may not have space in the newspaper to tell everyone’s small stories of sudden happiness, but there are plenty of friends, family, co-workers and even strangers who could love to hear some joy this season. Now if anyone wants to take a little joy off our hands so we can fit these new shoes in my wife’s shoe closet, feel free to let me know.

Rochester resident Matt Knutson is the communications and events director for United Way of Olmsted County.