It's 4 on a Thursday morning. I'm wide awake because my 4-year-old grandson, Henry—enjoying a "sleepover" with Nana while Mom and Dad are out of town—woke up at 3 with a sore throat. After a trip to the potty and a few sips of juice, he has drifted back to sleep. If he wakes up cured in the morning, he can go to preschool, as planned, then enjoy his afternoon play date with cousin Mikayla. My day, too, will go as planned. But if Henry's middle-of-the-night sore throat greets the morning, the day's priority will immediately shift: together we willl snuggle up under a fuzzy blanket and watch The Velveteen Rabbit—again. My morning meeting will be cancelled, and I'll have to bow out of the fancy-schmancy luncheon I've been invited to.

No big deal.

At age 29, 39, or even 49, I might have been undone by a last-minute change of plans. Especially in December. The crazy month. The season of peace and joy during which I have often been frustrated and miserable.

But not this year. Several weeks ago I celebrated my 59 birthday. I find this shocking, and for the most part I would rather be younger. But I have to admit there is something to be said for the perspective (dare I say wisdom?) that the years have given me.

Here's the main difference between me at 29 and me at 59: I used to think that everything mattered. Now I realize that very little matters.

I used to think that festive yet elegant Christmas decorations mattered. I used to think that hosting big parties mattered. I used to think that buying gifts for everyone who might possibly expect a gift mattered. I used to think that sending Christmas cards mattered. And that beautiful wrapping paper mattered. And that sophisticated holiday menus mattered.

But no more.

This ...

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