Happy Friday, RISERS! I hope this week has been good to you. Here we are on the first day of the last month of 2023. It seems like this year began just last month! And now, we are thrust into the holiday shopping season with just about three weeks until Christmas. Go Christmas light-looking, bake some cookies, or put together Christmas puzzles as a family. Enjoy the weekend, and make good memories.
Quote of the Week: “My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.” –Bob Hope
Song of the Week: I am not sure how I originally came across this story in song, but “The Train” by Celestial Navigations is one of my favorite things to listen to as the Christmas season begins. It is about a man who is a passenger on a train. Sitting in front of him in a cold, drafty car is a woman holding her baby. We don’t know much about the woman, except that she is full of strong emotions that cause her to sigh deeply. Taking note of the woman sends the man back into a memory from his younger days. He describes coming indoors out of the cold on a Christmas past, singing carols with family, watching his sister and cousins stare at presents under the tree. He can almost savor the smell of the turkey wafting through the house. After being transported back in time, the man hears the woman crying and moves to put his coat around her shoulders for warmth. Though this woman is a stranger, he shows compassion and love by not saying anything but just being there with her in this sad moment. I hope you like it as much as I do.
Holiday Tip for the Week: It is a well-known fact that Christmas shopping either excites people or brings out the worst in them. As you brave the stores this season, remember to show mercy to the retail staff. They often have consumers fussing at them for things beyond their control. You may also encounter parents with cranky children. As much as humanly possible, be patient with them. By giving the gift of peace during stressful situations, you will embody the spirit of the season.
Recipe of the Week: One of the things my family enjoys during the Christmas season is decorating gingerbread men. You can either bake the cookies yourself or grab a kit from the store. We always asked our next-door neighbor, Nancy, to judge our competition for the best-decorated gingerbread man. She was a softie and gave everyone a prize, which made it even more fun. Be bold and daring, and try a contest for your family. Good luck, and happy eating!
Shout Out of the Week: This week, I want to give a shout out to all of the families who will experience this holiday missing a loved one. Three people in my family will be missed this Christmas. It has been a miracle that my stepfather is still with us. He is recovering from his brain bleed and will move into a rehabilitation facility. Permit yourself to grieve, but try to reflect on the happy times you’ve enjoyed with your loved ones. I am still adjusting to this new reality, too.
Have a great weekend. Remember, you are most awesome, and YOU ROCK!
Marion Rhines is a foster-turned-adoptive parent. She lives in Knoxville, Tenn., with her husband and five children. She has written and published two children’s books as well as two foster-care-themed novels. She has a Facebook blog, Tips from the FLIP Side, and enjoys working with children of all ages.