Thursday, December 13, 2012

Difficult & Meaningful Holidays

I have often heard about people who have difficulty celebrating a holiday because of the memory of a loved one who died at that time of year. I never really understood that feeling before, but now I think I do. Christmas was my parent's favorite time of year, they made it festive and wonderful, but they are no longer here. I miss them, but instead of
not celebrating the holidays I've decided to celebrate in honor of them.

I've put up decorations, the tree is half done and I'll do some Christmas
shopping today and next week. For my parents Christmas was all about the decorations, the gifts, the cooking & baking, family, friends, festivities and fun. The bigger the better, the more the merrier. I always went along with it, but every year I found myself asking them not to spoil their grandchildren by spending too much money on them. Eventually I gave up because they were going to do it anyway. Gifts were their love language.

I've never really liked making a big deal about Christmas, I would prefer that it not be so commercialized. For me  it is a time to thank God for the love and goodness that exists, to pray for peace on earth, and to do something for others who are less fortunate. That is the Christmas cheer I would like to spread from now on, instead of feeling pressured to buy lots of gifts in order to meet everyone's expectations. My parents gave a lot from their heart, but I have to give my own way, from my own heart. I can do that and still honor and appreciate them.

My favorite Christmas memory is the year I went to Israel & Palestine. I went to the place of Jesus birth; Bethlehem is in Palestine. It was a war zone, buildings half blown up and deserted, soldiers everywhere, and little children begging in the streets. There were a few scattered Christmas lights and decorations in random windows which stood out in drastic contrast to the reality of the war torn country. A brave gesture of hope and faith.

In Israel I participated in a peace conference, visited historical sites, walked Jesus path of tears, and met with people of all faiths. I visited temples, synagogues, mosques and churches and prayed for understanding and peace among all people of faith. I participated in a peace march and large rally where over 10,000 people of all faiths gathered to honor God together and show that it is possible to love one another beyond the doctrines that divide us.

I gave most of my money to the children begging in the streets in both countries. However, I was able to bring home a few small and inexpensive souvenirs as gifts for my parents & family members. I got home on Christmas eve and was very tired, but every moment with my family was more meaningful than ever. I only wished that my whole family could have had this experience with me, but I tried to share the depth of it's meaning as best as I could.

I wish you and your family Happy Holidays, Peace on Earth, Good Will and Blessings.
Everyone wants happiness, but it comes from cultivating a heart of love for others. I pray that each of us can become givers of true love, and that we can appreciate the many different ways of expressing that.

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