Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011 and an uncertain New Year

This has been a great Christmas season for me...spent allot of time with family (all of them in one place), and renewed friendships that I have neglected for too long. This is actually the second Christmas in a row that I have been home after several years of missed family celebrations due to the Marine Corps having deployed me overseas.
This year gave me a new perspective of the importance of family and what they all mean to me. I was also able to view some other less fortunate families, through a family we sponsored for Christmas, and through Operation Others, where a couple of High Schools in Omaha get together to provide Holiday Dinners to several thousand needy families in the Omaha area.  A single mother with five kids, who struggles to keep food on her families table and pay her bills became the recipient of my families attention this year. We provided her with the wherewithal to make a few of her kids dreams come true. I saw a family come together to make the season better for another family that needed help..but it all went a few steps further. One of the sons will have his first several years of college taken care of and two others will have scholarships to two local high schools next year. I was proud of my family for making the sacrifice and proud of her family for knowing they will make the best of it.
I'm not trying to boast about what my family did.... I just want to illustrate how a loving family, that has been blessed with good fortune, can impact another family in a big way. We didn't purchase any gifts for each other, except for the kids, and devoted ourselves to this family that we had never known.
I'm pretty sure that we will be doing this in future years am looking forward to it.

After spending most of the last ten years away at Christmas and experiencing the holiday in Iraq or other interesting places...being home provided a sharp contrast. Most of the places I have been are areas of the world where poverty is a way of life, places where finding a daily meal can be a challenge. So when I say that I am proud of my family for helping a less fortunate family I mean it.
Last year was hard to take at Christmas....everyone was sharing gifts, and was shifting the bounty around people that had a great deal already.  A sister in law was thrilled to get an expensive necklace from her necklace while I was remembering the people I met in Iraq, that could barely find clothes for their kids. It all seemed a bit much to me and a bit overwhelming. Several members of my family noticed my "uncomfortablness" which led to a discussion of gifting at Christmas in general and the overall purpose of giving during the holidays. We decided last year to find a needy family and our church was more than forthcoming.
So we have a new tradition in my family, one that I am proud to be a part of.
I come form a family that has been blessed with allot and it's certainly easier for us to do this than most....but I would encourage all of you to look beyond your immediate families next year and do something for a family that could use the help...
This next year will impact all of us in many ways that may not be pleasant. It's been a hard year for many of us and for many will unfortunately get worse. Major economic challenges face us all, and political uncertainty looms from each continent and effects us all. Lets keep up the dialogue.... and maybe we can each create a better understanding of each other in OUR little corner of the world.
Semper Fi