Written by Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj and published on 20 July 2021.
Love, Peace, Hope and Joy - these four words signify the true meaning of Christmas. Here's to a Merry Christmas with your family...
Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh, o'er the fields we go, laughing all the way...
These words from the famous Christmas carol 'Jingle bells' signify cheer and merriment. What is Christmas without spreading good cheer to those around us? Here are some meaningful ways to spread Christmas cheer as a family:
'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life' - John 3:16, The Bible
This verse from the Bible captures the essence of Christmas. It signifies God's love for mankind. The birth of Christ to bring salvation to man is God's gift to us. What else could be greater than this love - sending His beloved Son to this earth to die on the cross for our sins?
1. Express love: This feeling will gain meaning only if it is stated through words or demonstrated through actions. So, show that you love one and all. As a family, practise expressions of love. Begin with the basics - use words of endearment such as 'I love you,', 'You're so special to me,', 'I like you so much,' or 'I'm glad to have you as a friend.' You can add to this a gentle touch, a loving handshake, a pat on the shoulder or a tight hug. Let your children learn to love all nature and living beings. Let them embrace plants and trees, and cuddle pets.
2. Nurture love: Feelings of animosity, anger, envy, pride and selfishness will only send out negative vibes from you. Also, they will spread nothing but ill will and bitterness. Therefore, nurture love within yourself. Let the feeling fill your heart and mind. Teach your child to steer clear of negative feelings and not harbour any negative thoughts about anyone.
3. Sow acts of love: Do a good deed whenever and wherever you can - in the neighbourhood, community, workplace, school, and so on. Teach your child to lend a helping hand to those in need - helping an elderly person to cross the road, sharing possessions with the less privileged or explaining difficult concepts to a slow learner in the class. Empathy is the key to sowing these deeds of love. Remember, every act that expresses love will bear fruit and spread its fragrance to those around you.
'Silent Night, Holy Night,
All is calm, all is bright...'
Ninety-nine years ago, on Christmas eve, this carol was first heard in a village church in Austria. The lyrics had been penned by Joseph Mohr, a young priest, in 1916. Ever since then, this beautiful composition with its powerful lyrics has rung in the serenity that goes with Christmas - the day that Christ, the Prince of Peace, was born.
4. Wave the flag of peace: In a world that is filled with strife and war, our children need to learn to live at peace with everyone. As a family, put an end to petty squabbles, arguments, quarrels, and so on with those around. Let this Christmas be an occasion to forgive and forget, to break down fences and build bridges, to repair broken friendships and nurture them. Begin with a simple handshake; if you do it wholeheartedly, it will lead to a nice big hug.
5. Feel at peace: Amidst all the stress that we find ourselves in today, it is important to be at peace with ourselves. Let this moment be an opportunity for you and the family to stay still and be calm, no matter how fierce the storm that blows around you is. Also, teach your child to learn to introspect and purge himself of negativity. Spend time in prayer and meditation - it will have a cathartic effect and fill you with peace.
"Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing heavenly muse."
? John Milton, Paradise Lost
These famous lines of Milton, condense the entire Bible and God's plan for humanity. When Paradise was lost to man in the garden of Eden after his fall, God drew a plan for man's redemption by sending his beloved Son to this earth. And, that plan helped chart the path to regaining the lost Paradise. This plan speaks of Hope for mankind. All was not lost at Eden. For, God with his mercy and grace ensured eternal life for man.
6. Be a symbol of hope: If you sense despair and depression in others, cheer them up. Give them the hope that there is a silver lining behind every cloud. Be a beacon of hope for them and reach out to them. Remember, even a simple loving word will bring sunshine into many a life. Teach your child to wipe away the tears of those who are sad, to comfort those who are heartbroken, to offer help to those who are hopeless. Let your child invest time in relationships to heal souls - that's the best gift your family can give someone this Christmas.
7. Hope for the best: Never feel that all is lost. Never worry about what the morrow will bring. Dusk always gives way to dawn. Teach your child to trust in himself - his abilities, his strengths, his talents. Tell him to give his best and that the best will come back to him. Let him bear in mind that a pessimistic attitude will never help. He needs to have a positive outlook towards life. To spread good cheer, he needs to stay cheerful. As a family, cheer up and say, 'Hurray!'
'I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people' - Luke 2: 10, The Bible
This was the angelic choir's announcement to the peace-loving shepherds who kept watch on a still, calm night two thousand years ago, heralding the birth of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. This birth brought joy to mankind with the promise of salvation. Of all the Christmassy feelings, it is joy that can easily spread to others.
8. Sport a smile: This gesture can do wonders in building and maintaining relationships. Be it a neighbour you meet every morning, a stranger who passes you by on the road, the milk vendor who does his rounds every day, or even an annoying driver who breaks every rule and overtakes you on the wrong side of the road - a smile can bring cheer to all of them. Teach your child to smile and grin rather than frown and sulk. It can lift up not just her spirits but those of others around her.
9. Count your blessings: Rather than focussing on what you do not have, thank God for all that you have. Teach your child to make a list of all the blessings he has received in life. It will surely bring a smile to his lips and up his happiness quotient. Remember, happiness begins with the self. Be happy and spread good cheer.
10. Focus on happiness: With the world today revolving around materialism, as a family, practise focussing on happiness. Teach your child that material comforts will only offer momentary pleasures. Whereas the happiness we give ourselves and others by our good thoughts, words and deeds will last longer. Therefore, let not your life be dictated by what the world deems as success, but by what will make you truly happy.
Through you and your family, may many experience love, peace, hope and joy. A Merry Christmas to all!