Congratulations on the beginning of a new year!

Did you know that you started this new year with a wild gift?

You Have Just Received a Great Gift!

You Have Just Been Given a Great Gift!

Let’s unwrap it. Look! It’s the gift of more time! 2016 is a Leap Year, and so will have 366 days instead of only 365.

To accommodate the actual rate at which the Earth orbits around the sun, we add a day to our calendar every four years, making up for the approximately 6 hours per year of time unaccounted for otherwise.

So “you have been given a great gift,” as Clarence, the angel in It’s a Wonderful Life, tells George: the gift of 24 hours.

If I could go back to those who passed in 2015, if I could go to their families and offer them 24 more hours to spend with their loved one, do you think they’d take me up on it? Most would.

Knowing now that death would come on such and such a date, but being given the gift of a 24 hour extension, think of what a soon-to-be-deceased might do! Imagine how his or her loved ones might spend that time saying all the things they’ve only thought of too late. Time to ask those questions, Time to more fully express our gratitude and our love. Time to just be together.

But, of course, that’s not how death works. It almost always takes us on its own time schedule.

I think of those who passed in my world this year: the 58 year old woman who died suddenly in her sleep of a heart attack. The man who died the day after Christmas, in his own bed, with his family around him as he took his last breaths. The young firefighter who, home from college, died fighting a wildfire in his own hometown. I remember the baby, too, born at full term, but stillborn. Her family certainly would love to have another day with her, and she with them, I imagine.

Twenty-four hours is a long time when it’s a gift.

So, with a simple shift in our own perception, I suggest we view 2016, just as it is beginning, as a windfall. Twenty-four additional hours will be ours this year! Let’s devote ourselves to honoring those we care about for 24 hours this year, either all on February 29th or better yet, spread out over the whole year.

Let’s take time to better express and define our love for those we will someday lose or for those who will lose us. Let’s honor life by attending to it, gifting those we love with our loving attention. Let’s dedicate ourselves to spending our time mindfully engaged in loving. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

May you intentionally spend this year’s gift to you. Spread it around.

It is time for love.