Monday, December 21, 2015

KEEP THE FAITH!


During this holiday season, giving is what we'll be doing most. Weeks before Christmas, we'll  have sent beautiful cards with sweet sentiments to everybody we know and love. Shiny bright presents under the tree will be tagged for our moms, dads, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and a multitude of dear friends. Delectable foods will be shared with company, countless toasts of holiday cheer wishing all health and happiness will be made, and warm embraces will be given as family and friends head for home.

As the old saying goes, "Giving is better than receiving," and I couldn't agree more. But the one precious thing we have and need to keep especially during Christmas is your faith. As Christians we believe that God sent His beloved Son, Jesus, into the world so that all mankind will be redeemed. No greater gift has ever been given before! And it is this gift that we must hold on to throughout all the days of our lives.

Millions of folks will attend Christmas services to comemorate the birth of Christ. They will kneel before the Nativity and thank the Lord for blessings they've received throughout the year. They will pray for those souls who have left this world and ask that the dearly departed enjoy the heavenly bliss promised to all of us. They will implore the New Born Babe to guide them through the pain and suffering that visits everyone at one time or another, and they will beg for the courage to walk through the Valley of Tears with hope for a better tomorrows.

The older I get, the need for material things lessens more and more. If you asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, I would say peace and happiness for my family, friends, and most importantly, for the world. And as time passes, I look back and see that faith has been the most treasured gift I've ever received. I was born into a family who valued their belief in God above all else. We enjoyed many years of prosperity and good health. During those periods, it was easy to believe. But we also endured painful events of loss and deprivation. We could have easily raised our fists to heaven and denounced the existence of God. Yet by keeping the faith, our family prayed harder, drew closer, and weathered the storms of life together.

Personally I have gone through times when I felt it would be better to leave this world than to be a burden to my loved ones. It was only because of my faith that I chose to move forward and conquer my demons, and I'm so very happy I did. A number of my friends couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel and made a different choice. If not for my faith, I could have easily made the same decision.

During this holiest of times, give generously, spread Christmas joy to all you meet, and celebrate your blessings with good food, good wine, and good people!

Just remember to KEEP THE FAITH!


Monday, December 14, 2015

Grammy, Family, And Faith

If you're lucky enough to have your grammy with you and if you've been blessed to be a grammy, this time of the year is especially wonderful. Christmas provides the family an opportunity to listen to grammy's stories of long ago when she herself was a child, watch her face light up when she talks about what her mother and father did to make their home warm and inviting, empathize with grammy as her eyes fill with tears remembering how her Zedo sat at the head of the table on Christmas Eve, raising his glass and toasting to the blessing they'd received throughout the year while Baba served those traditional foods that only graced the table at Christmas.

And if possible, attend church services together. For grammy, having her family with her singing Silent Night and Joy to the World, awaiting the start of midnight mass is priceless. Her faith which was instilled in her from birth, is what has kept her going over the years. It is these beliefs that allowed grammy to face the trials and tribulations of life and be the stronger for it. Grammy is proud of her family and is filled with a deep sense of satisfaction in knowing that when she is gone,
her son and daughters and their families will carry on the traditions she held so close to her heart.

When opening presents, sneak a peek at grammy as she anticipates the  reactions of her grandchildren. Just knowing that she has made some of their dreams come true is the best gift grammy could ever receive. She doesn't need things, she is perfectly content with hearing the squeals and wows of the people who mean most to her in the entire world.

Lastly, remember to shower her with hugs and kisses as you depart for home. Knowing that she's loved and appreciated is what keeps grammy full of life, perhaps so full, she'll be around for next Christmas, too!


Monday, December 7, 2015

Should Your Children Know About WWII?

I wasn't born in 1941, but I've heard about that horrific event since I was a wee tot. Although my dad didn't qualify to take part in WWII, my uncle, Tom did. From the time I could remember, he occasionally shared terrible details of what happened to so many of his buddies. The one that still sticks in my brain had to do with the bombing of the USS Oklahoma. Uncle Tom had a friend aboard who jumped ship trying to escape the fiery hell he found himself in. The screaming of being burned alive was deafening, and in the end, no one survived.

I was born in 1944, the year WWII was winding down. Again being an infant, I had no knowledge of the many parades and celebrations that were held to welcome 'our boys' back from the war. My mom often told me about how she and our relatives lined the sidewalks of Pittsburgh as the soldiers were transported throughout the city, smiling and waving to signal their gratitude for making it home alive.

Throughout grade school and high school, there was little if any emphasis on WWII. We touched on WWI at the end of the year, but somehow never got around to Pearl Harbor. If it hadn't been for Uncle Tom and my family, sad to say I would have been totally ignorant of the sacrifices so many of our servicemen made, even the ultimate sacrifice, to keep our country, our world, and kids like me safe.

I hope that our schools today make it a priority to tell their students about WWII. Their purpose should not be to instill fear into the hearts of the young, but rather to make them aware of what their great-grandfathers did to make sure they'd always live in a free nation. These men accepted their duty to protect and serve without question. They were selfless individuals who knew the perils they faced and yet were willing to die so that others would never know the horrors of war on American soil.

Today is the 74th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Take this opportunity to tell your children about what happened on that fateful day. Perhaps take the family to a parade honoring those men who endured and gave so much. Encourage the young to ask questions, and answer them honestly.

Children are our hope for the future. In order for them to be instrumental in effecting world peace, they must first be aware of the wars that happened so many years ago so they can avoid the mistakes that led up to these skirmishes of the past. Teach them conflict resolution skills when they're two, so that when they become our leaders of tomorrow they will have mastered these important techniques.

Above all, remember Pearl Harbor today as the beginning of a positive outcome. In 1945 WWII was over, and the United States of America remained a harbor of freedom!

God bless those who fought so valiantly during those years of unrest and uncertainty, and God bless the servicemen and women who continue to give of themselves so we may never have to engage in another world war again.