To all my friends and followers living in the United States of America, I wish you a wonderful Fourth of July (Independence Day, if you want to be formal).
While there are certainly reasons for concern, worry, and even complaint, we do live in a wonderful country. We enjoy wide-ranging freedoms, abound in opportunities, and—despite the naysayers—reside in prosperity.
I’m glad to be a citizen of the United States of America and pleased to live in this amazing nation. I thank our forefathers who made this all possible and salute them for their foresight and sacrifices to form our country.
This Monday will be Memorial Day in the USA. It is a national holiday set aside in memory of military personnel who died while serving their country. As such it should be a solemn day of remembrance, attending parades and visiting the graves of loved ones.
Memorial Day is also an appropriate reminder to thank all those who have served their country through military service. Regardless of your opinion on the politics behind the various US involvements in which they serve, commend them for their many acts service; they put their future and their life on the line for their compatriots.
Additionally are those who return from military service with life-altering injuries, both physical and mental. Too often they are forgotten or marginalized. Remember them too.
Some observe Memorial Day by doing these things. For others, it is a day to relax or have a cookout. However, too many have lost sight of why this holiday exists, seeing it merely as a day off from work (for most people) or a long weekend. Aside from enjoying the day, one can take in a parade, visit a gravesite, thank a military man or woman, hire a vet, or do whatever they can to show respect or appreciation. But whatever you do, remember to remember—today and every day.
Like other holidays with historical religious meaning, Easter has been significantly skewed by both custom and commercialization. Over time, the risen savior has been superseded by bunnies and eggs (reportedly symbols of fertility).
Notwithstanding, Easter egg hunts and chocolate candies of all variations are delightful traditions—as long as the true focus of Easter is retained.
One such staple of Easter tradition in our household is peeps—those mouth-watering creations of colored marshmallow and sugar. There is often debate as to the optimum timing in the consumption of these delectable treats: fresh or aged. I prefer my peeps to be aged in order to maximize my noshing enjoyment.
As most peep connoisseurs know, there are two methods of aging peeps. The preferred, yet painfully slow method is to leave them packaged in a dark place. Using this approach, aging takes between 6 to 12 months. The other technique is to remove them from their package so that they may “air age.” Though this takes only days, great caution must be exercised to protect them from environmental elements.
We just recently celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. Though most view it as a secular holiday, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day has a religious origin. This has been lost over time, with his work and accomplishments having been long forgotten by most people.
After embarking on your favorite St. Patrick’s Day rituals and routines, don green attire, or imbibe in adult beverages of questionable coloration, let’s have a quick review. But, don’t worry; you will not be tested on this material.
With Christmas and New Years Behind Us, It Is Time to Get Things Back to Normal
It’s great to have time off from work for the holidays, wonderful to spend time with family, and enjoyable to feast upon holiday foods and delectable deserts. However, it is also good to return to a regular routine—for things to get back to normal.
But the transition from holiday mode to normal mode takes time for me. I think it does for others as well. The days after the holidays did not seem normal and I think many people shared my struggle to return to normal.
However, I think today was nearly normal and I suspect tomorrow will be completely normal. At least I hope so because I have work to do!
Ringing in the New Year often marks a time for making resolutions. CommonNew Year’s resolutions include losing weight, saving money, studying more, finding a better job, improving a relationship, being kinder or more generous, drinking less, and so on.
Usually these well-intentioned resolutions are short-lived. Aside from being vague and difficult to determine success, I think the problem is we set ourselves up for failure. Let’s assume I step on the scale in September and realize I need to lose weight. But I’ll wait and make a New Year’s resolution to drop the extra pounds. Since this idea lives in the future, I don’t need to worry about it now; I can continue eating as I always have. In four months I’ll focus on weight loss, but for now, don’t worry.
This gives me four months to further instill my bad habits. Additionally, knowing that in the future I’ll need to be more careful with what I eat, emboldens me to eat poorly now, while I still have the chance. This only makes the problem worse, resulting in more weight to lose later. A much better approach is to begin losing weight right away and not delay.
Instead of waiting until January first to change a habit, introduce a new one, or remove a bad one, why not make changes as soon as the opportunity arises? Why accumulate a list of resolutions for the start of a new year? Instead, make incremental improvements throughout the year.
If you made a New Year’s resolution, I wish you success. And if you forgot, don’t wait until 2020. Begin making changes right away. Any day is a great day to start improving your life.
Not to be dismissed are the cards from service providers, such as insurance agents and financial advisers. This reminds me, from ten years ago, I was amused and then taken aback by the generic message in one such card that read:
“Wishing you time to slow down and enjoy your special day.”
What does that say about the pace at which we move in today’s society? Is being too busy so common that a wish to slow down has become a universal sentiment? I hope not, but I fear it is so.
Take Time to Slow Down
That’s not to imply that at times I don’t need to slow down, because sometimes I do. Sometimes my workload overwhelms me; sometimes I get frustrated by the commitments I have thoughtlessly made; and sometimes I say, “I’m too busy”—but not too often.
It took awhile, but I’ve learned the freedom of saying “no.” I now often say “no” to good things so that I may have time for the best things. And when I consistently do that, I don’t need to take time to slow down to enjoy the day—I’m already moving at the right pace, which allows me to enjoy just about every day that comes along.
Regardless of the speed of your day, I hope the same for you.
So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
(Luke 2:1-14 — NKJV)
Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night.
Ten years ago, the economy wasn’t looking good, the markets were in the pits, and there was general concern about the future. Given all this, it was easy to be self-focused and forget about other people and their circumstances.
Every major city has organizations and outreach programs to help these people—and that is good. However, these groups continue to address people who need their help, which means that they need our help. If you can make a donation, now is the time to do so. If a monetary gift isn’t possible, then give of your time. With people in need, they are in need for volunteers. Of course, you can give both your time and your money.
As the holiday season approaches, the spirit of giving and sharing typically increases. Please do what you can to help, but just remember that the homeless don’t only need help at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the year around.
I hope you enjoy the holidays—and can help others do the same.