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Friday, December 20, 2013

Combat Christmas Consumerism - 3 Ways To Remember The Reason For The Season

The holiday season is here, whether you're ready or not. Less than one month ago friends and family gathered around tables, shared delicious meals and gave thanks for all the good in our lives. Exactly 24 hours later gratitude gave way to "getititude" as scores of shoppers swarmed and scrambled to grab bargains on Black Friday. The season of comfort and joy has become more about flat screen televisions and hard to find toys.

Last year I blogged about my own child's sense of Christmas entitlement. 

This year our family has worked hard to counteract consumerism and instead teach virtues of true holiday spirit. While I want my little ones to enjoy the thrill of receiving gifts from their wish list; it's equally important for them to learn the magic of giving, creating traditions and being spiritually grounded. It's easy to get caught up in the commercial hoopla! Use these tips to add meaning to the most wonderful time of the year.

1. Celebrate The Joy Of Giving
We all look forward to the smiles that follow unwrapping beautiful boxes on Christmas morning (Hanukkah and Kwanzaa too)! We save, shop, sneak and stress to get our loved ones what they desire most. Hopefully as adults we've learned the joy of giving, as well as receiving. Plan activities that teach your little ones that sentiment. It's important for them to realize that other boys and girls may be going without. Find a local toy drive, group home, or church collecting items for the less fortunate. Donate toys, books and clothing that can be a blessing to those who desperately need a bit of holiday cheer. If finances are tight give your time. Join a group that sings carols at nursing homes or spend an afternoon volunteering at a local shelter. Be the gift!

2. Create Family Traditions Together
Fellowship, family, laughter and love - these are life's most special gifts. Make the season mean so much more by creating traditions with your children. Craft homemade ornaments or cards, bake cookies for your neighbors, attend a performance of the Nutcracker, see a holiday concert, go ice skating, host a Christmas Eve potluck, etc. Give your family something to look forward to each year that's invaluable, immaterial and doesn't require batteries.

3. Teach The Reason For The Season
Focus on your faith. Why and what do you believe? As busy adults we sometimes take for granted the spiritual lessons imparted by our elders. Teach your children the essence of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Make it fun! Take part of special activities in your place of worship. Pick out a couple of new books. Put on a play or puppet show to perform for loved ones visiting from out of state. Although Santa has become a prominent figure, remind your children the star atop your tree does not shine in celebration of dear old St. Nick.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Rest Well Father Freedom ~ Remembering Nelson Mandela's Legacy as the Regal Revolutionary

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, 95 year old statesman, Nobel Peace Prize winner and anti-apartheid revolutionary, died leaving behind the love of his family, nation and the world. The son of a Tembu chief, he was named Rolihlahla, meaning “troublemaker,” until his first day at school where his teacher dubbed "Nelson" to conform to the British bias in education. Drawn to politics in his teens, his civil rights era fight to end apartheid (a system of racial segregation enforced through Dutch colonial legislation) resulted in Mandela serving almost three decades in prison. After his hard earned release in 1990, Mandela led negotiations that abolished apartheid and established a multiracial election in 1994. Subsequently he went on to become the first black South African to hold the office of President. In the same year Mandela's autobiography Long Walk to Freedom was published profiling his early life, maturation, education and 27 years of incarceration. 

An international political and social icon, Mandela lived for nearly a century wholly dedicated to freedom, justice, education, combating poverty, HIV/AIDS prevention and inspiring all people to live their dreams and create their legacies. 

Coming of age in the 1980s and 1990s I was aware of Mandela's mission for equality, the impact of his life story and how his words and ideas influenced a new generation of world 

In the wake of his transition from this Earth, please share the lessons of this luminary with our youth so that they too might shine their lights and lead the less fortunate out of the shadows of injustice. 

1. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

2. "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

3. "It always seems impossible until it's done." 

4. "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

5. “There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” 

6. "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

7. "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."

8. “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”

9. “When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” 

10. “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.” 

11. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” 

12. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” 

13. “As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself... Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.” 

14. "Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front."

15. “As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself... Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.” 

16. “Where you stand depends on where you sit.” 

17. “It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.” 

18. “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” 

19. “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

20. “We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”