Archive for December 23, 2010
Shhh…I’m walking home with Junior Scrooge and trying to convince him to come by my house to help decorate our Christmas tree. Just as expected, he’s a real killjoy when it comes to Christmas. Here I go…be real quiet and listen in.
Yes, you may walk with me, but keep up. No dilly dallying, I’m a busy man…business to conduct. What’s that you say? What Christmas traditions do I celebrate? You’re one of those Christmas lovers, eh? In the infamous words of Ebenezer Scrooge, “Bah humbug!” What good are Christmas traditions anyway? It’s all just a waste of time. Sure, Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, but who needs the hoopla? Just a distressing waste of time and money. I really don’t have the time for the frivolous run around and hypocritical commercial onslaught of Christmas.
What are you pointing at? That family? I see them…laughing and singing while they decorate their tree. Probably can’t afford the time or money they are wasting though. Sure, they look like they’re celebrating and having fun. They all look happy and full of life…smiling, hugging. Such displays of affection. I don’t need that kind of embarrassing dribble in my life. They need a lesson on the hard realities of life and work. They do seem to enjoy their family though…and share a real closeness. That’s fine for them. They probably think family important. But I have no family. Ah, who needs it? I’m perfectly fine on my own.
Which family are you pointing at? Oh yes, the one singing carols and giving gifts to the needy. Soft-hearted saps. I suppose you’re going to tell me this tradition helps them “practice what they preach.” Well, our world would do well if a few families pass that value on to the next generation. Maybe we’d have a whole generation of families practicing kindness and generosity. Ah, I show my kindness by letting people pull themselves up by their bootstraps, show some initiative, get out there and hustle! Kind of funny–they really do seem happy reaching out to others, sharing this tradition of music. I remember the fun I had as a lad going caroling. Ah, child’s play. Let’s get on here. I have to get home.
Alright, I see that family, too. You really are persistent, aren’t you? I know they make cookies every year. Every year I have to eat a dozen of those cookies…quite tasty, I might add. They can keep making cookies and doing all the other things they do every year for all I care. It keeps those kids secure in their family’s care and out of my hair. See that little one there? Last time she brought me cookies, she practically burst with excitement talking about how much she enjoyed making cookies to give away. Why, I think she is so excited to do things with her family that she plans her schedule so she doesn’t miss it. Good for her…
I didn’t realize you planned to harass me about Christmas traditions the whole way to my house. You must enjoy some traditions. Go on home and enjoy them yourself. I’m sure you have a family…and all the time in the world to waste on those silly activities. I don’t have that kind of time. I don’t have time to slow down and enjoy some silly tradition. I’m too busy. Too much to get done.
So, this is my place. Thanks for the constant barrage of “Christmas hope.” I know my house is dark…I live alone. What am I doing tonight? Well, eating supper, watching TV and going to bed. Oh, you’re decorating your tree? Well, have fun getting your finger pricked on pine needles and sweeping them up after Christmas. Would I like to join you? I suppose you will all sing and laugh while you decorate? Yes? And, probably talk about all the memories that come up around the ornaments? Will everyone be there? Even your lovely son and daughter? They do love to laugh. If I were to come, might we share some cookies? Yes? Well, I suppose I could spare an evening. I would love to come over. Thank you for asking.
What do you mean “Bah humbug?” Who said that? I would never say such a thing…I love Christmas traditions.
Every Christmas I have the same dilemma-what gifts do I give to my family? Like an episode of Hawaii Five-O, I begin an investigation to discover the perfect gift. Moving from person to person and place to place I make quiet observations and ask not-so-subtle questions in search of a gift that is desired, needed, and useful at the same time. This year I think I hit the jackpot. My investigations have uncovered 5 gifts, all needed and desired, that family members will love and enjoy all year.
Eat dinner with your family as often as possible. Turn off the TV, don’t answer the phone, gather around the table, and share a meal together. Eating as a family keeps the doors of communication open. In addition, teens that eat frequently with their family are three-and-a half times less likely to abuse illegal drugs. Girls who eat with the family five or more times a week are one-third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits. And, eating together can be fun. You can talk about the day, make plans for upcoming events, joke around, share funny stories and memories, and learn about one another’s interests. Eating together is a great gift with great benefits for the whole family.
Have a regular date night with your spouse. The strength of your marriage sets the standard for honor, grace, and celebration within the whole family. How we treat our spouse influences the intimacy and respect shared among the whole family. When children see their parents going on a dates and genuinely expressing love to one another, they feel safer and more secure. So, a great gift to your family is to make your marriage strong. A regular date night with your spouse gives you the opportunity to talk, have fun, and grow more intimate. It tells the whole family that relationships are important.
Have family fun nights at least two times a month. Get together with your family for an evening of fun and games. Families love this gift. And, it provides the opportunity to teach important social skills, academic skills, and family values in the midst of laughter and play. I know I learn better when I’m having fun. Family fun nights provide the added benefit of building closer family ties. In fact, “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than you can in a year of conversation” (Plato). All this while engaging in a fun, relaxing activity.
Encourage each family member in public and private forums. Encouragement expresses your love for that person. Even God recognized and encouraged His Son. The Gospels tell us of three instances in which God acknowledging and encouraging His Son in a very public manner. Encouraging our family members will help build their self-confidence, confirm your loyal alliance, boost their know-how, and strengthen your relationship. Gifts don’t get any better than this.
Take a genuine interest in what interests each family member. This gift is often overlooked, but is still a tremendous gift. Take the time to learn about something that interests your family member. If they enjoy music, learn about the music they like. If they enjoy cooking, learn about cooking and cook with them. If they enjoy the ballet, learn about the ballet and go watch a ballet with them. Whatever the interest, make a genuine investment in learning about that topic…not because the topic interests you but because your family member interests you. This gift will enrich you, your family, and your relationship for years to come.
Wrapping these ideas in a homemade coupon book that includes a coupon for each of these gifts will bring a smile to anyone’s face. It will definitely provide a gift your family will enjoy for years to come.
Christmas is a wonderful time to build family intimacy. Unfortunately, we can get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of commercialism that we lose sight of family togetherness and the true meaning of Christmas. We have to look beyond the hustle and bustle of Christmas to find the real meaning of Christmas and “read between the lines” to find what Christmas is all about. Read between the lines in the message below for the true meaning of Christmas.