"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cherishing your Loved Ones

Today I received a letter from my daughter's college saying that one of their students had died. This month has been tough on many parents. It started with my husband's co-worker losing a son to a biking accident by his college campus. A week later, news of the terrible massacre in Newtown filled the air with images of beautiful, bright young lives taken too quickly along with dedicated teachers and staff.

When I received news from the campus I felt that much worse. It's the holiday season. It's the time when we cherish our families and to through great lengths to be home for Christmas like the songs and movies tell is to do. Without family the holidays are sad, but losing a family member during the season is especially painful.

Society as a whole has become more isolated. One of the most common complaints that I hear from people on message boards and in person is that they are lonely. Single people are lonely because they haven't met "the one person that will change their lives". Married people are lonely because they either married the wrong one and have been living in pain for years or have lost touch in their relationship. Children are lonely because they don't have friends to play with. Adults are lonely because they spend so much time working that they can't cultivate friendships.

We pursue many things.... money, power, fame, material possessions, faith, knowledge... but the one thing that we all need is LOVE. Ideally a family is a ready-made LOVE system. It's a love that spans miles and time. It's a love that continues even after the death of a loved one.

In this image of a bunch of men breaking ground for a new church is my dear Grandpa (the man in the snow white hair). He has been gone for more than 20 years. This picture showed up on my FB feed the other day and my heart jumped out of my chest. My love for that dear man is as rock solid as it was when he was alive. Death doesn't change that.

We all have those people... many people that have moved on to their eternal home. Someday we will see them again but until then, we can cherish their memories and love on those people that are here for us today.

Here's my little challenge.... turn off your electronics for a while and visit with your loved ones this Christmas. Don't get so caught up in the ball games and the movies that you forget that you are living your own version of a Christmas movie. Play games with the kids... visit with the older folk. Hold hands with your spouse. Kiss... hug...laugh...spoil. Christmas is about the gift of love... not presents.

For the past few years, we've made our family present about doing something together. We no longer give gifts to our kids, instead we go on a short family vacation. It's a great way to build memories and value each other. Our favorite trip is to NYC, where we can visit art museums and eat good pizza, chinese, bagels and diner desserts (my vegan ways shoot a hole in THAT plan... dang). 

What can you do this year to cherish your family? 

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