Winter solstice--the Christmas Season, as it is generally called, is supposed to be "the season to be jolly" but as the cold weather sets in, I have generally felt quite the opposite--quiescent, at best; gloomy at worst. But one inconspicuous, but very reassuring fruit of my practice has come clear to me in recent days: the recognition that we have a lot more choice over our moods than most people think. We all have limited control over our external circumstances--we are of the nature to get sick, grow old, and die (realities that become ever clearer after one turns 60!), and there is little we can do to secure ourselves from the vicissitudes of life. But no matter how many aggravating things happen, no matter how many afflictive emotions arise, we are still free, at all times, to CHOOSE to breathe, observe, let go, and--when ready to do so authentically--smile--that is, to breathe in our own and others anguish, whatever it may be, and to breathe out love, to ourselves and all others. And then, quite simply, to do what needs to be done, cultivating friendliness, compassion, joy, and equanimity all the while.