Christmas is just passed and as you read this, we are staring down the tunnel of 2013. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
Christmas is often a time of mixed emotions. We get together with people we love to laugh and share experiences and special food. There is always a downside as we look around and visualize the faces of the ones who used to rejoice with us, but are passed on to the next life or separated for other reasons, some bitter.
I have been blessed with a loving and supportive family. My parents and other family members are celebrating in heaven, and I guess I have moved to the head of the line. Realizing this makes me more deeply appreciate these family times.
We also enjoy some amazing technology in this day and age. We can call people almost anywhere in the world to touch their lives with love and appreciation. A granddaughter of mine, who lives in Cape Cod, joined our gift exchange on Skype. What an incredible experience.
In our Christian culture, the emphasis is on giving. We are encouraged to give generously and even sacrificially. It is wonderful to give beyond need to the point of blessing.
The flipside is hardly mentioned, but it is just as important. Be a grateful receiver. You can really bless the giver by being appreciative. Picture a mom receiving a handful of dandelions from her child. The child glows as mom pours out her love and appreciation for the thought more than the gift. The love expressed will encourage the child to not only bless mom but others by her giving.
There is a TV ad that shows a lady pulling out a green and white stocking cap and saying unenthusiastically "Oh, it's just what I wanted." What they are conveying in the ad is that she is lying and she really will appreciate a new car. What if they can't afford a new car?
Be a grateful receiver. Be thankful that the giver is in your life in a good relationship with you.
As we look down the 2013 tunnel and wonder what's ahead, resolve to make it better by being a spontaneous giver. I must confess that I am a little irritated by compulsory giving.
To a great extent, the retailers benefit from all the events that have been created to make you obligated to send a card or buy a gift. I admit that we men especially need to be reminded to express our appreciation for that special day that so blessed us.
That's OK, but what I really appreciate is that unplanned, unexpected and spontaneous gift. When someone, just out of the blue, hands me something and says, "You know I saw this and just thought that it was something you would like," I am really touched.
Be spontaneous in your gifting of things and actions.
And finally, in this coming year, work at restoring family relationships.
The most important foundational organization in any society is the family. This is the primary resource for teaching children to become productive citizens and important members of a safe society.
Our future depends on what kind of legacy we are leaving them. I worry about my descendants' future more than I do my own future. I wish I could believe in a future for them that is safe and where freedom is a reality.
If boys are to grow up to be good men, they need good and responsible fathers. If girls are to grow up to be mothers and live in a secure environment, they need mothers now who are good examples.
In this coming year, may you be a spontaneous blesser, a determined seeker of truth and a passionate defender of the family.
May the God of creation inspire and protect us.
"Out On A Limb" appears on the first Tuesday of the month. Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle, where he is a business owner.