I’m sure exhaustion has set in for many, especially for those with children and grandchildren. I know my wife, Kathleen, who did almost all the shopping, cooking, and decorating, is on life support this day after. With time, the exhaustion fades away and the sweet memories take over.
Hopefully, we remember the true reason for Christmas and celebrate the birth of Jesus. But even for those that have different beliefs, or are more secular, Christmas allows a reason for families to come together and, hopefully, spend time for reacquainting, sharing stories, and solidifying relationships.
Families are natural support systems. When families succeed, individuals succeed. Individual success is measured not in paychecks, but in emotional health and the ability to contribute in positive ways. Successful individuals are not a burden on anyone and they contribute to the greater good. It comes down to the basic fact that families are the key reason for success or failure in any aspect of society.
One blessing I wish for all is strong family values. I am not a Mormon but I respect many of the family values they exhibit. If you were to look at all the states, Utah has one of the lowest crime rates and lowest rate of out-of-wedlock births in the country. Not coincidentally, Utah is also very family oriented due to the large Mormon population. Anywhere family values prevail, society thrives as also evidenced by Utah's very low unemployment rate.
On the other hand crime, out-of-wedlock births, and other societal issues will usually involve those individuals from weak or unsupportive family backgrounds. Statistics and common experience bear this out. These examples are, of course, generalizations and not an indictment or praise of any person or group. But to say it is cloudier in Seattle than Yuma, Arizona is also a generalization (but it usually is).
Religion is a great asset to a disciplined society. But religion does not ensure discipline nor does discipline ensure kindness or acceptance. But religion does set standards and you will find where society fails, positive standards are few. Religious standards routinely include caring and community.
You will notice that all religions have celebrations which bring thier believers together. Christmas brings Christians together and is an opportunity to remember and practice standards of love, giving, sharing, and fellowship. Those standards act as rudders of guidance in an ocean of choices. Without guidance, we are without the combined knowledge of those before us, therefore susceptible to avoidable mistakes and temptations. As an advocate for responsible fatherhood (Dadhood), I hope no man ignores his value as a mentor to his children.
As you may have noticed as a ramble on, this is a stream of consciousness article, in other words, I had no idea what I was going to say before I sat down. But I do want one thing to come to you as it came to me as I pressed on my laptop keys. ‘Family’ is a key to every result in life, whether positive or negative! A family doesn’t ensure success, and lack of a strong family doesn’t spell doom. But a strong family does make success easier and failure less likely. A supportive family may be the greatest gift ever!
Happy New Year!