Ahhh, the holidays - a special time of celebration and festivities! So, why are they so often colored with strain in relationships, disappointment, and even heartache?
One reason is because it's a time to get together with family members...including some we may have unresolved issues with.
Another reason for strain during the holidays is because one or more relatives may have strongly held beliefs about how and where the holidays should be spent. So, there may be a butting of heads, or even manipulation behind the scenes.
These reasons can then be amplified when you add in the in-law factor. Now, you not only have differences from within, but from 'without.'
In healthy, loving families differences give way to 'give-and-takes.' However, in some families there will be those who stubbornly want things their way, causing everyone else to have to decide how they will respond in such situations. Dying to a tradition, perspective, or desire isn't always easy; but letting go and taking the higher road in such situations can be the best strategy you can apply.
It really all gets down to love: to love ourselves, or to love others.
And there really is no better time than Christmas, the celebration of the One who modeled selfless love the best, to see the challenges that may come up as opportunities to follow His example, which will only result in the peace and goodwill to all, that was promised.
If you want to, have been meaning to, but haven't gotten around to...doing something to help the poor, the starving, even right here in the U.S., you can start today, while at the same time teach your children the value of giving to those less fortunate.
Here's an idea! Buy a bank or a box with a lid, or whatever you'd be happy to leave on your kitchen table, and designate one night a week as "Feed the Poor Night" and as everyone comes to sit down to dinner have each put some of their money/allowance in the box, which idealy you will send off together once a month to a reputable charitable organization that is effectively making an impact in caring for and feeding the poor.
Here are a couple of the organizations we can recommend:
>Life Outreach - feeds starving children in Africa, builds orphanages China for cast-away babies.
>Operation Blessing - food, medical, school supplies, clothes to America's poor and overseas
>Just One - safe water, food, shelter, education
>Desire of Nations - HIV, at-risk children in Kenya
Taking the kids with you will not only make the time for those you visit special, but your children's lives memorable. Such memories not only last a lifetime, but shape them into compassionate adults.
There are many people who spend their days alone...many days alone. So, why not 'round up friends and neighbors and encourage them to take their kids to visit those who are hospitalized in your town? (Remember, before bringing cookies or candy, as many are likely to be on a restricted diet, check with the hospital first for suggestions of what to bring, such as cheery cards, model airplanes, small stuffed animals for terminally ill children, magazines or books).
Maybe you'd like to hand out balloons and paint faces on the children in a children's wing of a hospital. Or sing patriotic songs to the soldiers. Whatever you do will be appreciated, you can be sure of that.
Nothing can teach children the art of compassion better than example. And what better way than to bring a little cheer to our hospitalized Vets, children with terminal diseases, and senior citizens?
We'd love to hear about your experiences. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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