Tag Archives: Advent

Happy New Year to All

happy-new-year-hi  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with lots of time for friends and family.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about 2016 not being a great year. I’m not exactly sure why. For me, personally, it was a fairly good year. We were able to travel a little. There were some big milestones this year. At the beginning of November, Craig and I attended our fiftieth class reunion from Washington High School in Phoenix, It was lots of fun reconnecting with old friends and finding out what they’ve been up to.

At the end of November, we celebrated my mother’s ninetieth birthday. While not everyone was able to make it, we did have a good representation of family members as well as many of the residents where my mom lives.

On a sadder note, we had some dear ones leave us. My Uncle George–whose family moved him from Chino Valley, AZ to Kansas City, MO a few years ago–passed away. He was my mother’s youngest brother, leaving my mother as the last sibling. At the end of October, I lost a very dear friend, Norma Bennett. Then on the last day of November, my father-in-law passed away. While they will be greatly missed, we have fond memories to carry with us.

This is the time of year when we may feel moved to make resolutions. I haven’t really made any. As part of my preparation during Advent, I made a dream list that I think should give me enough to work on during this coming year.

Whether you make a list or not, I think we can all benefit from these words from author, Jon Gordon:

  • “Stay positive. You can listen to the cynics and believe success is impossible or believe with God all things are possible.
  • Each day when you awake, complete this statement:  ‘My purpose today is ______.’
  • Take a morning walk of gratitude. It creates a fertile mind for success. You can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time, and when you combine gratitude with physical exercise you give yourself a double-boost of positive energy and natural antidepressants.
  • Instead of being disappointed about where you are, think optimistically about where you are going.
  • Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a college kid with a maxed-out charge card.
  • Believe that everything happens for a reason, and good things come from challenging experiences.
  • Don’t waste energy on gossip, past issues, negative thoughts, and things you can’t control. Invest in the positive, present moment.
  • Mentor someone and be mentored by someone.
  • Live the 3 E’s: Energy. Enthusiasm. Empathy.
  • Remember there’s no substitute for hard work.
  • Zoom focus: Ask yourself, ‘What are the three most important things I need to do today?’
  • Implement the ‘No complaining’ rule. Complaining is like vomiting; afterwards you feel better, but people around you feel sick!
  • Read more books than you did last year.
  • Get more rest. You can’t replace sleep with a double latte!
  • Before bed, complete these statement: ‘I’m thankful for ___.’ ‘Today I accomplished ___.”
  • Think of your mind like a garden. If you weed the negative and feed the positive for one day it doesn’t do much, but when you do it every day you create a magnificent garden.”

That is quite an extensive list, but I’m sure we can all find a few things we would like to make a part of our daily lives.  Happy New Year to everyone.

Keeping Christ in Christmas

IMG_0796As a Catholic Christian, I enjoy our liturgical calendar. I see it as a path to follow–a guide to help me on my journey. For Catholics, the new year began on the first Sunday of Advent, November 30, and continues for three more Sundays. Advent is a time of preparation. In the scriptures we read, “A voice cries out in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.” In church we sing, “Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel.” Through reflecting inwardly and reaching out to others with acts of mercy, we prepare our hearts to receive Jesus.

Advent is followed by Christmas. For many people, Christmas is one day–December 25. For Catholics, Christmas is a season. It begins on December 25 and continues through Epiphany–January 4 this year.  Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the magi and reminds us to always seek Jesus and keep him foremost in our hearts and minds as we travel on our journey.  After the Christmas season, we move into what is called ordinary time. That doesn’t mean we sit back and relax until Lent. Strengthened in faith by our weeks of preparation, we move forward, following the teachings of Jesus and applying them to our daily lives.

I have a magnetic sign I hang on my car this time of year. It says, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” More and more these days, the traditional greeting of “Merry Christmas” is being replaced by the more general and ostensibly more politically correct “Happy Holidays.” As Christians we have witnessed our celebration of Christ’s birth being overshadowed by more material and secular activities such as parties and shopping for expensive gifts.  “Keep Christ in Christmas” has become a movement to remind us of the true meaning of the season. Ironically, the expression “Merry Christmas” seems to have taken on new importance as we boldly continue to greet others with those words.

One of my favorite ways to celebrate Christmas is ringing the Salvation Army bell. This past Friday, I finished my third and final session–with temperatures in the twenties, bundled up from head to toe. I watched with glee as bills and coins were pushed through the slot into the red kettle, knowing that it all goes to help those in need in our community. But ringing the bell is about more than just collecting money. What I enjoy most is greeting people as they walk up to the store–receiving and returning their smiles and warm wishes. Sometimes I’m able to share a brief moment in someone’s day and I really love that. It makes me feel a part of something bigger than myself and lets me know that we are in this together. Keeping Christ in Christmas doesn’t seem like such a daunting task as I recognize him in the kindness and generosity of those I meet as I stand there in front of Safeway, ringing that bell.