The holiday festivities began about a month ago here at work. A week before Thanksgiving we found ourselves lined up for a huge pre-Thanksgiving lunch, when someone muttered, “I can’t wait for the holidays to be over. Every year it’s the same thing, it gives someone a reason to be a huge jerk.” At that moment I thought about how much I disagreed with that statement. With that, my idea for this article was formed.
So here’s a short and sweet one to put some positive words out there. When Thanksgiving and Christmas come each year, sure I have those memories of the hard stuff of past Christmases, and I’m missing loved ones that have gone before me, but more than anything I have some favorites that come up and outshine the darkness. Here they are:
A few of my favorite things:
- The holidays have a way of bringing people together. You might not be near the one you love this season, but look around, you’ll see that there’s probably a reason why you are sitting by that co-worker at the holiday party, or why there’s an extra seat at the table because a family member is missing, maybe it’s time to ask your neighbor to come on over and hang. They could be lonely and in need of some good company and cheer.
- Yes our vulnerabilities can come out during this time of the year depending on where we are in life, but this can be good too. Take a seat and try watching a great movie like, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The story of a man who gave all away and in the end reaped a reward far greater than he ever imagined is great food for thought.
- This is a great time to be thankful and reflect on all that God has done for you. So it’s been a rough year worldwide but didn’t He keep you? So you might have been in the line of fire from some relationship situations, but didn’t God grant you the perseverance? No matter what life season you are in, this is a great time to stop and thank God for all He has done and a great time to reflect on ways you can bless Him and His people within the upcoming year.
Well, that’s a few of my favorites. Whatever yours are, from my family to yours I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous new year!
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One of my favorite shows right now is the popular TV hit, “This Is Us.” I love it because it shows the good, the bad, ugly and authentic snapshots of family.
It is inevitable that at some point during each episode I will have a personal moment where the tears flow (not stream but flow) down my face. The transparent and raw emotions experienced within the various family dynamics hit me to the core. Yet the more I watch this show, the more real it becomes to me that no matter the dynamics or situations, “it is what it is” and the family we see is what they have chosen to make of all life has dealt them.
I consider my own personal family dynamics in my home. My dream was to be married at a young age and have children immediately. My “plan” was to then adopt after having a couple of biological children and then spend my years on the mission field. I was 37 years old when I got married and my bonus daughter made me an instant mom and within one year of trying to learn the ropes of this parenting thing, she was out the door and off to college. In one year I was a newlywed, step-mom, a daughter in law and experiencing love from a set of parents who were still married to one another, saw my mom transition to heaven and then looked up at my husband realizing we were empty nesters, all in one year. Nothing happened according to what I had planned but everything according to His plan.
You see, we as a society can spend so much energy on perfectly planning the details of our lives and if we’re not careful, we will find ourselves in a state of disappointment and frustration when “life” happens instead of our plans. But then you have the incredible opportunity to look up and see who is by your side and choose to honor the gift in what is your family. For me that includes biological family, my incredible family by marriage and then the family that the heart chose and not DNA. I realize there are good, bad and yes some ugly parts that we have gone through but THIS IS US and for every person that makes “us” complete is a treasured piece of my life that makes it so beautiful.
This Christmas, celebrate those in your life who make up your “Us” and don’t focus on what doesn’t matter but rather who matters.
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Think about this, what do you do when you have great news to share and you can’t keep it to yourself? It could be like a job promotion, engagement, and an honor or award you received. This news is hard to just keep secret and you must share it to your family and friends so they can celebrate with you and experience the fullness of that joy in what you’ve achieved. Do you feel that same with the news of Christ born this Christmas? Do you get overjoyed and excited and want to share with everyone around you that He is born and He is the gift of salvation? Is it the same or is it two different things sharing God’s word and love?
This news is not just a story, but also the truth of God’s word that brings hope and light to the world and we should be more than excited to share that with all we come in contact with. Not saying you have to shout it out but to truly be an example of God’s light and bring love to all that you come in contact with. Taking the time to do that will bring each of us the fullness of His joy and peace this Christmas and will take our minds off our to-do lists and our own needs. Sharing Christ’s news through our actions or words focuses us to see what truly is important this Christmas season and how that story of a little baby born in a manager isn’t just a fun story to share, but a life-changing message to share with others. Be bold in sharing this news as Romans 1:16 says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” This message of Christmas has power and, by sharing it, can change lives to know they have a perfect Savior that came for us to give us life. Now that is exciting news to share and to not keep it in!
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Last year around this time it was very important for me to shed light on the fact that the end of the year holiday season is not joyous for everyone. Some because it’s a reminder of loved ones that are no longer with them whether through death or separation, for others it’s due to depression and other factors. I wrote that article on behalf of others and to be honest, on behalf of myself. The end of the year has traditionally been hard for me. Not for any of the reasons above though. One reason is that I start reflecting on the past year and dredging up my disappointments regarding what I did or didn’t accomplish. I start to wallow and wonder if I wasted time, missed opportunities, or said, “yes” to the wrong ones. The second reason might catch you by surprise.
I love the holidays! It really is an incredible time of year. From the love, fellowship and sense of community everywhere you go, to the generosity of gift giving and receiving. We spend so much time decorating, making lists, shopping, wrapping and putting those well thought out (for some) gifts for those we love and care about under our trees. Gifts are my number one love language so I enjoy giving equally as much as I like to receive them. Giving them is a joy because I really try my best to get the person something they need or just really wanted. Receiving a gift is special because I’m always blown away and humbled that someone thought enough of me to spend their hard earned money to make me smile.
Because I love this time of year so much, I get super sad and almost post-partum like when it’s done. This year, however, I had the world’s most obvious and simple epiphany. We get to do it all over again next year! Instead of letting sadness set in after I’ve opened the last gift, and walked out of the last Christmas party, I will remember how blessed we are, God-willing, to experience it all over again next year! It’s true that tomorrow is not promised, but the cure for Christmas this year is recalling how blessed you are to have made it here and the privilege you will have of experiencing it all over at the end of another 12 months.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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