The Holidays: A Magical Time

from your friends at Booth Media Group The holidays are a special time. We reconnect with those who are most special to us, sometimes for the first time all year. We go out of our way to think about others, especially family and close friends, instead of ourselves, picking out gifts they will enjoy, letting them know we’re thinking about them. We give more, receive gracefully, and generally practice good will to those around us.

We seem to forget all the nastiness, the road rage, the gossip, the family bickering, and the differences that we allowed to divide us from our fellow human beings during the rest of the year.
Imagine if it was ALWAYS the holidays, in our hearts? Would you be happier? Would you make others happier? Would you give more and take less? Would you make a difference?

Why wait until this time of year to create a little holiday magic?

This is a time of year when faith, hope, and meaning are emphasized in our daily lives. These things add depth to our experiences and a brightness to our activities that we miss during the other 11 months. Imagine finding new joy and new hope throughout the year by consciously making every day special.

In a world full of horrible news reported 24/7, incessant focus on what separates us from each other, and a barrage of negativity in social media and elsewhere, we can each be a small ray of sunshine and a beacon of hope – and by joining those small ray of lights together we can cast a bright light far and wide.

Stay tuned for the next part in this series: Action Steps for 2016

Happy Holidays!

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

This has certainly been a crazy year! With so much going on in the news and the world, it can sometimes feel like the sky is falling. In the midst of the chaos of not only the trials and tribulations but also the successes and achievements that we experience each day, we can all too easily lose sight of what really matters.

During the holidays this year, it is important to realize that regardless of the size of the whirlwind of news, media, and responsibilities that seems to accost us on every side, nothing can be more important than family and valued relationships.

Those who are near to us emotionally, despite barriers of distance and time, are the ones who bring meaning to the rest of our life’s activities. They support us when we chase our dreams, they help us when we fall, and they inspire us to reach for higher goals. Sometimes we might neglect to let them know how precious they really are, but we don’t have to wait another moment!

Though our family and friends are important to us throughout the year, the holidays are a great chance to reconnect, reevaluate, and renew. Seek to mend those relationships might be strained, and deepen and develop the friendships that are already strong. Send a special card to someone with whom we’ve lost touch (or better, yet, pick up the phone and call!) Drop by to see an elderly friend or relative with holiday cookies and love. Share a little cheer with a stranger by smiling as we wait in line. Reach out to our community by donating our time or resources to a local shelter or soup kitchen.

In showering those around us with love, forgiveness, grace, and gratitude, we will not only enrich their lives, but will be rewarded ourselves. This is one of the true meanings of this season; let us embrace it today and take it with us into the New Year.


Ten Ways to Make Peace During Family Celebrations

Guest Post by Laura Davis, author of the book I Thought We’d Never Speak Again.

Being estranged from people in our families can make holidays and family gatherings events we dread, rather than times of joy and celebration. For instance:

  •  You’re not speaking to your mother-or your child- and mother’s day is right around the corner
  •  You’ve been avoiding your father for months and you’re expected to show up for dinner on father’s day
  •  Your sister is getting married and you’re going to have to sit with your older brother who you haven’t spoken to in years
  •  You’re dreading Thanksgiving at your sister’s house because of your loud-mouthed brother-in-law
  •  You want to enjoy yourself at your daughter’s wedding despite the fact that your ex-husband will be there

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, here are 10 ways to make things easier:

1. Acknowledge the things about the other person that you once loved and genuinely miss. All of us have good and bad qualities. Focus on the parts of the other person you can still appreciate and enjoy.

2. Walk a mile in the other person’s shoes. When we see things through the other person’s eyes, rather than our own, understanding and communication increase dramatically.

3. Don’t let pride get in your way. Wanting to be “right” and needing to blame the other person are two of the biggest obstacles to reconciliation.

4. Know where to draw the line. If you know you won’t allow yourself to be treated badly, it’s easier to open the door to reconciliation.

5. Be willing to take the first step. It doesn’t matter whose “turn” it is. If you want to make peace with someone, find the courage to reach out and begin the healing process.

6. Fear doesn’t have to stop you. Risk and reconciliation go hand in hand. Even if you’re scared and shaking, you can still pick up the phone. Whether or not the other person steps up to the plate, you’ll be a better person for having attempted reconciliation.

7. Focus on what you have in common. Rather than focusing on the past, concentrate on what you can share now: spending time with grandchildren, going to a sporting event, participating in a hobby you both enjoy.

8. Be realistic, but stay open for a miracle. Expecting someone to have a personality change inevitably leads to disappointment. Figure out what you need in the relationship at a minimum, and go for that.

9. Think about the kind of person you want to be. Do you want to be someone who carries a grudge over the course of a lifetime? Or do you want to learn to let go of past hurts?

10. To err is human, to forgive, divine. All of us are imperfect. Accepting our own shortcomings- and those of others- opens the door to healing and reconciliation.