18 December 2018      

Welcome to this week's issue of Living Life Fully's e-zine--we're joyful that you're here.
The Christmas season is upon us once more, which means that many people are sharing peace
and good will more than they usually are, and all of us benefit from the fact that more people
are willing to share and focus on others these days than they are most other days of the year.
Please enjoy this holiday season that is focused on giving and sharing.

All I Want for Christmas
Linda Sharp

Lasting Gifts
Gail Pursell Elliott

A Recipe for Christmas
tom walsh

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Blessed is the season which engages
the whole world in a conspiracy of love.

Hamilton Wright Mabie

I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.

Harlan Miller

Christmas 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 Christmas.

Calvin Coolidge

  
All I Want for Christmas. . . Parents, You May Be Surprised
Linda Sharp

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 pits.

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.

Please Stop 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.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!
   


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.

   

    

    

Lasting Gifts
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, compassion. 

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 balance.

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 lives.

Have a Wonderful Holiday and be good to yourself.  You deserve it!

  
  

Over 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 as 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.

   

   

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It was a thrill to wake up and find an orange in my stocking, and I'll never
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

   

 
A Recipe for Christmas

I often think of what kind of advice I could give to other people for enjoying their Christmas holidays.  This is kind of difficult for me because over the years I've also tried to stop trying to give advice unless it's absolutely necessary, preferring instead to let things run their course and allow people to learn important lessons in the process.  Perhaps it's just being a part of this culture in which we like to tell other people what to do, how to think, and how to act, but there is a part of me that likes to give advice.

The trouble with recipes, of course, is that even if you follow them to the letter, the dish you make may or may not resemble the dish it's supposed to be--and chances are that you'll never be able to figure out just why it's different.  Why did those stupid chocolate chip cookies get all flat like that?  What did I miss, or do wrong?

So a recipe for a happy holiday can only be accurate for an individual--somebody else would have more of one ingredient, less of another, and some new ingredients altogether with some others left out.  So if I'm to make a recipe for a merry Christmas, it's one that will work for only me, and others will have to modify it to fit their own preferences, of course.  But that's okay--I've seen some recipes that call for ingredients that I never would have thought of including, and that make the dish much, much better.  By the same token, of course, some ingredients aren't at all necessary for me, so I can leave them out with no problem.

For a happy Christmas, I'd have to start with three cups of giving.  This is a holiday that has as its main focus the generosity that somehow we keep bottled up the rest of the year.  Giving is one of the most important elements of a full life in general, but it's a stronger need during the Christmas season.  I give people what I know they want and need, or think they want and need, and I won't include any giving that's based on what I think they should have, for that's not true giving, for it's giving with expectations, and that simply isn't genuine generosity.  Of course, giving isn't determined solely by the recipients' needs and wants:  my friend may need a new car, but that wouldn't be a very appropriate gift for the holiday.

I'd also have to add a cup of goodwill, aka Christmas Cheer.  Being in a good mood can be a challenge, but when you're able to share that good mood with others, the challenge is more than worth it.  Our positive behavior can be something very beneficial for other people, and if we can share more of it during the holidays, we're helping others to enjoy their holidays, too.

We definitely have to add a cup of compassion to our creation.  The holidays are very difficult for many people, and it's far too easy to feel that they're being negative when in fact, they're having a hard time.  It's far too easy to get the idea that everyone should be happy during the Christmas season, so we need to temper our expectations with the realization that others may be going through something that we can't really imagine.

Of course, we need to add a tablespoon or so of letting go.  Letting go of expectations is extremely important during the holidays because otherwise, we're going to face a whole lot of disappointment when others don't act like we expect them to, when they don't give us the gifts we're expecting, when they don't react as we expect them to when they open their gifts from us.  Unfulfilled expectations are especially difficult to deal with during the holiday season, so it's in everyone's best interest to allow our expectations to slip away quietly, leaving us with peace of mind and peace of heart.

Which brings to mind another necessary ingredient:  peace.  This is a stressful season, and many people find themselves with their nerves frayed very early on.  Let's add a tablespoon or two of peace to the whole mixture so that we can be a peaceful influence on everyone with whom we come in contact during the Christmas season.

We can season what we're making with our own personal touches on whatever we give.  Simply buying gifts can be nice, but it can be much better when there's something personal in them.  I may be the only one who knows that she really likes lions, or that when he was a kid he loved Winnie the Pooh.  Such pieces of knowledge can help us to find special little gifts that are both important to the person and personal in nature because of our shared knowledge or background.  On the other hand, sometimes our personal talents don't really match certain people--I might be very good at canning salsa and some people may love salsa as a gift, but other people who don't eat the stuff really wouldn't want it if it will just sit in their pantry, never used.

I can also season my creation with hope.  Perhaps there's a way to show the person we love that there is hope in the world, that there are reasons for moving forward in life, for keeping on with all that we're doing, that things are going to change if they're not going well now.  A small book on the beauties of life can send a strong message to someone who's grieving, for example, while a book on a certain profession or art world can be a breath of fresh and inspiring air to a young person who's looking forward to the future.

Finally, once our creation is done, we can take it out of the oven and sprinkle it all over with a generous amount of love.  Of course, this love would have been there in every part of the process--the thinking of, the getting, the preparing, the finishing, the wrapping, the giving.  And it's this love that provides the heat to help it to cook to its proper consistency, and the environment in which it can stay fresh and moist and tasty.

Of course, a Christmas holiday isn't something that we can see and touch and cook, but if we do our best to include all of these ingredients into our next week or so, we're going to stand a much better chance of enjoying a beautiful holiday season, for these are the things that will help the others in our lives to have a beautiful holiday, also.  It's not our responsibility to make the day perfect for everyone else--and we're courting disaster if we try to do so--but it is within our power to spread some lovingkindness during this beautiful holiday season.

Good luck with yours!
   
   

  

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What is Christmas?  It is 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

  
The Art of Keeping Christmas
Wilferd A. Peterson

How 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?

By 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 the season.

By following the Star on an inward journey to Bethlehem to stand again in awe and wonder before the Babe in a Manger.

By rediscovering the faith and simplicity of a little child, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

By being still and listening to the angels sing within our hearts.

By quietly evaluating our lives according to the Master's standards as set forth in the Sermon on the Mount.

By reaffirming the supremacy of the spirit in man's conquest of himself.

By rededicating ourselves to the Master's ideals of Peace, Brotherhood, and Good Will.

By resolving to give ourselves away to others in love, joy and devotion.

By 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 way. 
   
  

Next morning an orange in one's stocking, along with candy and popcorn,
was the greatest treat.  For with no fruit stores as we now have them,
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

    

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