Saturday, December 24, 2016

Disappointed in Christmas this Year?

Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time of year.  But I find that many of my conversations with friends and acquaintances regarding this so-called joyous season are not joy-filled by any stretch of the imagination.  Disappointment would be a more descriptive word.  People are disappointed with their gift giving ability financially speaking.  Family members are disappointed with each other in a more pronounced way this time of year.  Patience runs thin.  Children are disappointed with what Santa brings them. Employees are disappointed with the lack of a Christmas bonus in their paycheck.  And friends disappoint one another during a holiday season characterized by over commitment. 

I am not disappointed with anyone or anything this year. Two experiences since Thanksgiving have shaped my holiday perspective.  Not long after polishing off the last bit of turkey leftovers I encountered several people that would spend their first Christmas without someone they loved profoundly.  These individuals lost spouses, siblings, parents, grandchildren, and lifelong friends. In fact, I am among that group.  I too lost a dear friend, who made a difference in the direction of my life.  I choose to be thankful this year. Life itself is too precious to fail to recognize the blessing of family and dear friends.  In my heart, I vowed to be grateful and not disappointed.

And then there was Santa Cops this year…. Every year the officers and chaplains with the Granbury Police Dept. grow beards to raise money for the Kids Armor Hope’s Christmas initiative. I slacked off this year in my fund-raising efforts.  I am grateful for the $350.00 that was contributed, but that is way down from previous years!!  Kids Armor of Hope buys gifts for children that are in the care of Child Protective Services in our area. (Many are in court-ordered foster care.) 

  Soo…I got to deliver gifts to a 16-year old, who missed the Kids Amor party.  He was thrilled with what given to him.  And then he proceeded to tell me this…. He said: “I have not opened a Christmas present in 8 years.”  He took me off guard. I was speechless. In a split second, I silently committed to fund raising efforts that blow the roof off during the 2017 Santa Cops effort in November of next year.  And in my heart, I vowed to be grateful and not disappointed…

Christmas is a joyous time of year.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Are People a Priority?

Meaningful friendships don’t just happen.  Family ties are not maintained effortlessly. Forming and maintaining relationships requires a significant investment of time and emotional energy.  Am I willing to make that investment?

I was invited to a Christmas party tonight.  I was reluctant to go, because I knew that more Spanish than English would be spoken.  Speaking and listening in Spanish  is work! And my Spanish vocabulary is certainly limited.  In the final analysis, I chose to go.  I made new friends. We enjoyed a meaningful dialogue…in Spanish.  They were most patient!  I left with a renewed desire to practice my Spanish.  After I left the party, I realized how lazy  had become in forming and maintaining relationships. 

I enjoy having friends.  I like the idea of being close to my extended family. But I was reminded tonight that it requires commitment.  There are so many barriers that impede the ongoing cultivation of friendships.  Similar obstacles cause families to feel disengaged from one another.  It’s easier to just skip the party.  It’s too much trouble to make a phone call or send a text.

As a new year approaches, I hope to do a few things differently. 

I am the king of procrastination, so I am thinking about making the phone call or sending the text when a person crosses my mind. Why wait until tomorrow?  Perhaps that individual is on my mind for a reason…

My family of origin receives a grade of F regarding extended family.  We failed.  I mean we failed miserably.  So…2017 needs to be a year to keep up with cousins, nieces, nephews, and the like. I must rise above the failures that characterized the past.

I am open to meeting new friends.  I am anxious to get to know people from a variety of backgrounds, ages, and interests.  I have gotten lazy in that area in recent years. And that is a mistake.

And finally, I am reminded of the need to be alert.  Most people are reluctant to say “I am down” or “I am discouraged.”  Paying attention is imperative.  My radar is back up.

Forming and maintaining relationships requires a significant investment of time and emotional energy.  Am I willing to make that investment?   It can be a scary journey, but I think the answer is a resounding “yes.”