Friday, December 24, 2010

Creating Precious Christmas Memories

Tomorrow’s Christmas Day and as I write this, I’m sure many are relaxing, waiting for Santa and his reindeer to make their annual world tour all in one night. While others of us are hitting the malls in one last attempt to get those perfect gifts for our friends and loved ones before the malls close early.  
This is just an awesome and special time for families. Even those who don’t celebrate Christmas get into the season by getting together with friends and family and having a great time. It’s a time when we forget about our troubles and just look at everything that’s good in the world. It is indeed a precious time.
It’s funny how there are those here in South Florida who insist that they can’t get into the Christmas season because of the weather. They’re used to having a white Christmas with snow all around so having temperatures in the 70s and 80s makes it feel like summer to them instead of the season to be jolly. Then there are those like me who grew up in the tropics and Christmas time is shorts and t-shirt time. 

That was my life – Christmas on Christmas Island! I even remember when Santa came to a nearby town and I was thinking, “Wow, Santa could be anywhere in the world today but he chose to come to our small little island.” Ahh, the days of childhood!
I never really got into Christmas quite as much when we moved to Houston, Texas. I lived there for 14 years and though the presents and egg nog were great, the wintery weather – though not as cold and snowy as up north – was too much for me. Christmas is about dressing in shorts and t-shirts and possibly going fishing. That’s the life I knew.
What about you? What thoughts do you have on growing up at Christmas time? I’m sure many of my Florida friends are yearning to be up north where they’re from because you simply don’t have Christmas in the sun. This isn’t Christmas at all. But what traditions did you grow up with? Each family’s experience is different I’m sure. But for the most part, we have pleasant thoughts about family gatherings during this time.
How special it is when we can forget about the world and its problems and the economic downturn and just look at everything that’s right with the world. The love, the laughter, the meals – everything just seems to come together.
A large part of my vision for the Upbeat Dad is to encourage those who’ve been divorced. During the holidays, while everyone is having a jolly time, there are those among us who are hurting. I wrote two posts around Thanksgiving a month ago that tell of my personal experience when I was one of those hurting during the holidays while going through a divorce. It’s not easy at all. Here are those posts – Thanksgiving 2010 vs Thanksgiving 2001: What a Difference!  and Broken-Hearted And Alone During The Holidays? Cheer Up, There's Hope. 
When I think on those days, I smile because though I was experiencing some turbulence in my life, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, everything just seemed right. Our family got together and we laughed and joked and had a good time, forgetting about the challenges of the moment.
During this wonderful time, perhaps you might be facing some challenges. But as my mom always says, “Where there is life, there is hope.” Relax and take it easy these next few days and just think of everything that is good with the world.
Our kids are so special and precious. Whatever may be going on in your world, for this season, do your best to help them enjoy every moment. When they grow older, they’ll look back at their childhood and what they will remember most will be the festive occasions when friends and family got together and everything seemed right.

As dads and moms, we have a great responsibility. Our kids’ happiness is really in our hands. It’s not so much about the toys that we might get them wrapped under their Christmas tree – it’s about the love we share and demonstrate to them. That will impact them for a lifetime.
I know many kids have an empty feeling this Christmas season because their dad is nowhere to be found. And he didn’t even bother to call or send a present. That can scar a child for decades. Many kids grow up with an emptiness because though their mom was a supermom and a great provider, the void in them that can only be filled by a father’s love still remains. I can’t imagine what my life would’ve been like without either of my parents. I don’t even want to entertain the thought of having grown up that way because both my dad and mom helped to shape and mold me in ways that have had a lasting impact.
Many kids do not know what that life is like. I can understand that some fathers have passed away. I can also understand that many dads are bad influences on their kids and the kids are probably better off anyway. But for many kids, their lives would be better if only their dad would care to be involved in their lives. If you’re guilty of being an absentee dad, why don’t you make that phone call today. Or make a special trip to see your kids. And stop at the mall and get something to brighten their day. It’s not about getting something expensive – it’s the thought that counts. Our kids need us more than we may know.
I hope that this Christmas will be special for you and yours. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. You’ve worked hard this year. Now sit back and relax and enjoy some quality time with those you love. And if you haven’t been there for your kids, why don’t you make it right by starting today?
I wish you a Merry Christmas and everything that’s good for the remainder of the season. And I hope yours and your kids’ Christmas dreams come true.
The Upbeat Dad

In my childhood in Jamaica, my favorite Christmas album was one by the Lennon Sisters. There’s a song on that album that I just loved called Christmas Island. It sounded somewhat Hawaiian. Some of the lyrics were:
How'd ya like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island?
How'd ya like to spend the holiday away across the sea?
How'd ya like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island?
How'd ya like to hang a stocking on a great big coconut tree?

How'd ya like to stay up late, like the islanders do?
Wait for Santa to sail in with your presents in a canoe.
If you ever spend Christmas on Christmas Island
You will never stray for everyday
Your Christmas dreams come true.

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