15 December 2015
Blessed is the season
the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
Hamilton Wright Mabie
wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars
and open a jar of it every month.
is for children. But it is for grown-ups,
too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and
nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of
chill and hide-bound hearts.
Lenora Mattingly Weber
Christmas is not a
time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and
goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of
All I Want
for Christmas. . . Parents, You May Be Surprised
I am a huge advocate of
parents getting into their children's schools on a regular basis.
As a stay-at-home mom, I am able to assist in my daughters'
classrooms each week. Whether helping with art projects, reading
or spelling, it keeps me connected and allows me direct insight
into my girls' day-to-day lives. It also affords me the
opportunity to connect with other children. And connect I do. The
hugs and openness with which I am greeted are huge indicators that
I have broken through that Grown-up/Child barrier.
It could be that when I
go into the school, I don't dress like an authority figure. You
won't find me wearing Chinos, skirts, loafers, untouchable hair or
any other spiffy adult attire. Instead, look for the person clad
in sweatpants or jeans, a comfy sweater and a baseball cap . . .
always a baseball cap. I come prepared to hug, get dirty on the
playground and sweep the floor with my butt during reading circle.
I also come with enough hugs to go around, twice. As a result, I
have been granted access into the Inner Sanctum of the Schoolyard.
Last week while working
on an art project with a rotating group of kids we talked about
music, movies, swear words, parents, the holidays. As talk turned
to what they hoped would be under their tree for Christmas or part
of their Hannukah 7 Day Gift Haul, I decided to take advantage of
my "non-threatening" status and pose the question: "Name
one thing you would like your Mom or Dad to give you this season
that would not cost a penny."
You could have heard that
penny hit the floor as silence enveloped them, and their young
minds went to work. As they each took turns answering, I was moved
to tears by their candor, their honesty and in some cases the
heartbreaking realities revealed in their words.
It is my holiday gift to
you all that I share what your kids REALLY want this year.
And no, a Play Station is nowhere on the lists of their hearts.
Listen To Me
Please: At the top of their lists is for we parents to
stop being so busy all the time and just listen to them talk. I
know I have been guilty of this one. God knows, we really are not
interested in hearing about the latest unpronounceable character
in their Harry Potter books, but we need to stop, look them in the
eye, and listen. If we don't, they will simply stop trying. And we
all know that the teenage days will come when they won't want to
discuss anything with us, be it Harry Potter or their newly hairy
Teach Me To Cook:
I was surprised by this request, but when I pressed for an
explanation, it quickly became clear. We are raising a generation
of Microwave Kids. They know how to use every button on the magic
box, but have no idea how to simmer, bake or boil. Granted, there
is great messiness in allowing your youngsters to cook with you,
but take it from me, some of my happiest memories are in the
kitchen with my Mom, dusted with flour and smudged with love.
Smoking: One child spoke this wish and it was quickly
echoed by many others. They have seen enough commercials to be
truly concerned about your health and their own, but it goes a bit
further than that. One young girl pulled me aside and whispered
her reason in my ear, "The other kids say I always smell
bad." I hugged her close and bent to kiss her head and she
was right. Her hair did not smell of Johnson & Johnson's, but
of Benson & Hedges. Not her choice and certainly not fair.
Stop Being So Busy
All The Time: If guilt were a color, I would have been
painted with it when I heard this one. How many of us use the
phrase, "Just a minute . . ." or "Hold on . .
." too much? Personally, there have been too many times I
have looked up after "just a minute" to find my child
has given up waiting and is gone.
Read TO Me: We tend to think that once a child can read, our job is done.
Actually, these children expressed a desire to have Mom or Dad
read a chapter book TO them each night. And while they
would really enjoy the reading, it leads to a deeper desire . . .
the other request that made me choke back a tear . . .
Hug Me More: I experience these children each week when I enter the classrooms.
They cling to me tighter than a wet pair of Levis. They are the
ones that are not getting enough hugs and snuggling and attention
at home. For them, I hug them not once, not twice, but as much and
as long as they need.
So while you are running around doing that
last minute shopping, add some of these items to your own child's
list. Rich or poor, they are all things that cost not a dime and
we all have in endless supply. We just have to stop and open our
arms and hearts a little wider.
Copyright 2000 by Linda M. Sharp.
Reprinted with permission.
Linda Sharp is an internationally
published author and columnist who writes regularly on the joyous
and frustrating world of parenting. Her work appears across
the Internet and wraps around the globe in parenting publications
from Canada to Malaysia to all points in between.
Gail Pursell Elliott
The most important gifts are not those that you can hold in your
hand. These, in their purest form, are simply an outward
representation of the gifts that are the most lasting: the gifts
of time, attention, thought, caring, peace of mind, true
friendship, acceptance, patience, tolerance, laughter, joy,
freedom of expression, companionship, insight, understanding,
Sometimes what is really important in life becomes obscured by
outer concerns. These have a tendency to make us feel poor and
wanting when we are not and to pull our attention to focus on
the attainment of symbols of a rich existence, which can
ultimately leave us destitute if we lack perspective and
Money and possessions are not in themselves important.
Only what they represent has meaning. Note also that
power, recognition, reputation, influence, control, and
manipulation are not included on the list of lasting gifts.
Our real life exists elsewhere, for if those inner gifts are
ignored or lacking the rest are empty icons that can symbolize
ultimately not abundance, but lack.
You are fortunate to be both rich and generous with gifts that
have real value. The rest, in the end, is truly nothing.
My wish for all of us this holiday season, is the ability to
recognize, express, and appreciate the lasting gifts in our
Have a Wonderful Holiday and be good to yourself. You
the years our world has changed dramatically.
People often treat each other like objects and
opportunities rather than as human beings. In
many cases we’ve lost touch with one another
people. Each of us is unique; each of us has
wants, hopes, needs, dreams, desires and the
right to dignity and respect as individuals. We
must gain insight and awareness to see each
other with new eyes. This Food for Thought
Anthology is the original collection of
essays, stories and quotes that was released by
Gail Pursell Elliott in 2001.
Wallpaper! Just click below
the size your desktop is
right-click on the
picture that appears
in the new
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"Set as background."
photo's from a potato
field on Prince Edward Island.)
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It was a
thrill to wake up and find an orange in my stocking, and I'll
forget how excited I was the year I got a banana! We
were a country
preacher's family, and we were poor. But we
had a mighty good time.
Norman Vincent Peale
While I truly love the holiday season, it's dismaying sometimes to
see that it has become a season of excess--in the giving of gifts,
in the amount of money spent on decorations, in the expectations
that we have of one another, in the competitions that seem to
exist to "out-do" one another in any of several
categories. 'Tis not the season of moderation.
Moderation, though, is one of the keys to a balanced and healthy
life. We live in a society that tells us that moderation is
for fools, mainly because there are so many people trying to sell
us goods that if we all practiced moderation in our lives, we
would not be buying many of the almost-useless products that we
currently buy. We run up excessive balances on our credit
cards in order to maintain lifestyles that are dependent upon
having, possessing, and consuming. We gain weight because we
don't practice moderation in our eating habits, and because we
neglect our exercise. When we live in extremes, though, we
don't live in healthy ways; rather, we stagger from extreme to
extreme--gorging to fasting, luxury to monastic simplicity--and
the roller coaster ride never allows us to gain our equilibrium,
and we can't simply stand in one place and relax.
It isn't usually a question of gluttony or greed that causes us to
do such things. In my case for example, I learned rather
late in life that my tendency to want to stockpile things comes
from the fact that I grew up in a household with an alcoholic
parent. When I would shop and I'd see something at a good
price, I'd buy tons of it, for I couldn't trust that I would ever
see it at that price again. My wife was constantly
astonished at how full our pantry was--and it was full because I
had grown up not trusting the future, not trusting that in the
future, I would have enough money or enough food or enough of
anything. I've had to literally train myself to trust life
and to stop buying so much of everything when I shopped, but I
have to admit that the urge to do so is still within me, and I'm
sure it will be until the day I die.
recognizes that many good things in life are good only
in moderation. There really can be too much of something wonderful.
Most virtues, taken to excess become vices. When an interest,
affection, or endeavor becomes utterly consuming, it doesn't
allow room for other kinds of goodness.
in that I learned early on just how unpleasant it is
to eat too much. Excess in almost any form is
unhealthy mostly because it robs us of perspective
and causes us to lose sight of what the other side
of the coin is like. If I don't practice
moderation in my pleasure seeking, as Stephen
mentions below, then I never allow myself to
experience life without those pleasures--and I never
allow myself to learn that life can be absolutely
amazing in its pure, raw form. The person who
gets pleasure from watching television, for example,
and who watches it for untold hours each week, robs
him- or herself of the chance to experience the
outdoors in all its glory. There are those
days that are simply too cold for going outdoors,
for example, and then it can be nice to have an
indoor movie day or two. In general, though,
too much time in front of the television keeps us
from practicing crafts, cleaning the house, spending
time with friends, getting the exercise we need, and
a huge number of other things.
Moderation can be a question of perspective,
too. My wife and I, for example, have a very
large collection of movies--and some might call it
excessive. But we don't spend our money going
to movies, we don't have a Netflix account, and we
don't spend money on any movie channels. We
also buy our movies at pawn shops and thrift stores,
where we pay an average of about two dollars a
movie. And once we watch them, we keep them,
so over the course of quite a few years, the
collection has built significantly, even though we
watch only two movies a week at the most, on
weekends. So by no measure can our film
watching or our spending on films be considered
excessive, even if the collection that you see seems
to indicate otherwise. We are very moderate in
our film-watching habits. We recently bought
all nine seasons of a television show that my wife
loves for three dollars a season, and I can
guarantee you that those discs will last us at least
two years before we finish watching them. But
anyone walking into our house will think that we're
definitely addicted to television shows.
pleasures in moderation can provide relaxation for the body
and mind and can foster family and other relationships. But
per se, offers no deep, lasting satisfaction or sense of
pleasure-centered person, too soon bored with each succeeding level
of "fun," constantly cries for more and more.
The danger with
not practicing moderation is just what Stephen says
it is: we become bored with the current
excess, and it no longer is excessive, but not
enough--and we need even more. This is how
people become alcoholics, how people become addicts,
how people lose control of their ability to judge
properly when enough is enough. We build
tolerances to substances and situations, and once
that tolerance is built we need more of it to
provide the stimulation that the lesser amount used
One of the reasons that I know that moderation is
important in our lives is the way that I've felt
when I've been around people who don't practice
it. Whenever I'm around someone who does
things to excess, I feel uncomfortable. Not
judgmental and not critical, but
uncomfortable. There's something inside of me
that tells me that something's wrong, that excess is
neither normal nor healthy, and I want to pay
attention to that something, the instinct with which
we all are born but that we spend so much time
ignoring. When I see a table filled with much
more food than is necessary, when I see people
spending much more money than is necessary, or when
I see people drinking to excess, I feel that
something's wrong, and our feelings are very
important indicators of what's right and what's
wrong in life.
Practicing moderation has many very positive
benefits. With a moderate diet, we avoid many
weight and health issues. With moderate
spending, we avoid problems that can come with
running out of money or having to borrow to make
ends meet. When we're satisfied with a really
good car instead of a much more expensive model, we
don't put ourselves into a deep hole of debt.
There are many examples of how we can help ourselves
with moderation, and it's important that we keep
them in mind when we have decisions to make as to
just how far we'll go or just how much we'll need.
beyond the bounds of moderation is to outrage humanity.
Our planet does
not have unlimited resources for us.
Moderation also helps us to be responsible stewards
of this amazing planet on which we live, for it will
keep us using only what we need. Sometimes we
may feel the desire to use or own more than our
share, but if we keep in mind the responsibility we
have to help to maintain our planet's ability to
support us, we just may find that moderation is
easier for us to practice. And even if
advertisers and marketers continue to try to
convince us to buy more and own more, we can rise
above their influence by being true to ourselves and
principles that we find to be important in our
I firmly believe that one day when I'm on my
deathbed, I'll be much more satisfied with having
lived a life defined by moderation and
responsibility than I would have been had I lived a
life focused on excess and irresponsibility.
And since I want my deathbed to be a peaceful place,
I know that I'll want to have the peace of mind that
will come from not having abused the resources
available to me, and from having accepted the need
to practice moderation out of respect to the world
in which I've lived.
of the most important elements of living life fully is
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and their motives and fears and desires, of the things that
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What is Christmas?
tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the
future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with
blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.
Agnes M. Pharo
Art of Keeping Christmas
Wilferd A. Peterson
can we best keep Christmas? How can we best defeat
the little bit of Scrooge in all of us and experience
the glory of the Great Day?
sinking the shafts of our spirits deep beneath the
sparkling tinsel of the surface of Christmas and
renewing within us the radiance of the inner meaning of
following the Star on an inward journey to Bethlehem to
stand again in awe and wonder before the Babe in a
rediscovering the faith and simplicity of a little
child, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.
being still and listening to the angels sing within our
quietly evaluating our lives according to the Master's
standards as set forth in the Sermon on the Mount.
reaffirming the supremacy of the spirit in man's
conquest of himself.
rededicating ourselves to the Master's ideals of Peace,
Brotherhood, and Good Will.
resolving to give ourselves away to others in love, joy
using the light of Christmas to guide us through the
darkness of the coming year, refusing to go back to the
dim kerosene lamps of the spirit when the brilliant
electricity of Christmas is available to show us the
morning an orange in one's stocking, along with candy and popcorn,
was the greatest treat. For with no fruit stores as we now
oranges were to be found in the stores only at
Christmastime. An orange
for Christmas! That was
something to remember and feel proud of
having received! It
was something worth telling to your playmates.
Fred L. Holmes
a year of one-sentence reminders
of ways that we can
make the most of our lives each day that we live.
New expanded edition!
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novel of life and learning; Walker's fascinating journey
will remind you of all that is good in this world.
Book - Kindle
Read Chapter One
David agrees to
give 70-year-old Hector
a ride west, he can't imagine the lessons he'll learn
about his life.
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Read Chapter One
and spending, we lay waste our powers," wrote
Wordsworth over 150 years ago. And we're still doing
Book - Kindle