Christmas All Year

When Ebenezer Scrooge went through his ordeal and comes out a changed man, he vowed to “honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” And he succeeded, becoming a man of love, joy , and compassion. The spirit of Christmas was in his heart all the year round. How can one be like Scrooge? How can we, living in this busy, modern, and oft times cruel world keep the attitude of Christmas all year?

For me Christmas is a time for giving. Not giving just presents or sharing a meal with my family, but of giving myself to my loved ones. As I’ve grown up (and even more strongly in the last couple years), I have come to realize that those I love needs to include to those who need help or are less fortunate than me. It is this love: from one person to another without precondition, reciprocation, or even thanks, that Christmas represents.

Keeping that kind of attitude all year long can be difficult. During the fall and spring school and work take up a lot of time. When summer arrives its time for vacations and cookouts and having fun. We get so busy with our own lives that we forget that we should be giving to others all the time. What kinds of things can you give all year in order to keep your Christmas spirit alive?

  • A word of encouragement.
  • A small token of appreciation.
  • Volunteering at a local charity.
  • Treating a friend to dinner.
  • Host a party and invite your neighbors.
  • Spend time with your loved ones doing things that you both enjoy.
  • Do something unexpectedly nice for a stranger.

These examples aren’t just things you can do during Christmas, but year-round. Just like Valentine’s Day isn’t the only time you should love your spouse and Veterans Day shouldn’t be the only time you are grateful for those who have died for your freedom, so too should Christmas not be a once in a year time to give of yourself. By embracing the idea that giving should be a selfless act and keeping in mind those who you love and are in need of compassion you can truly keep the spirit of Christmas all year long.

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The Perpetual Reader

The written word is a powerful thing. As I’ve said before, writing is very important to me. But there are always two sides to the coin aren’t there? My hope is that people will read what I write and gain something from it. With that in mind, can I really call myself a writer if I don’t pay even the simplest respects to the peers of my craft? In other words, if I don’t read the work of others, how can I possibly expect people to attend to my own words?

Reading is one of the best ways of transmitting information and ideas that there is. You don’t need a computer, the internet, a license, or permission to read. Hell you don’t even need eyes! It is also one of the most powerful ways to educate yourself and gain knowledge about the world around you. Why do you think colleges still use textbooks? Even most online classes still require a textbook.

Sadly, reading is on the decline. It is nowhere near extinct by any means, but many people today (especially youth) don’t even like to read! I’ve heard more than a couple of my friends say that they hate the activity. That baffles me. These are people without learning disorders or concentration issues. They simply don’t like the practice of sitting and reading. They deny themselves access to worlds of knowledge, entertainment, and enlightenment.

Now I will admit, sometimes the idea of reading doesn’t appeal to me either. It is so much easier to sit at the computer and watch a something on Netflix or play a video game than it is to sit and focus your attention and brainpower on a book. And even if I do read, it is often times a novel (not that there is anything wrong with novels) or something light and not very informative.

The best kind of books are those that uplift you and inform you. Books worth reading open your mind to the world and how it works. Books that explore the human condition and seek to answer the larger questions in life. Those are the kinds of books that I aspire to immerse myself in.

So here is my resolution:

I am going to be in the process of reading an informative, enlightening, or educational book all the time. I will peruse it with discernment and interest, and when I finish I’ll pick a new one.

Such a resolution is certainly a difficult one. I don’t know how many books I will finish in a years time, which is why I didn’t set myself a number. I would rather read slowly and understand 3 good books than rush through 8 and not get anything out of them.

You don’t have to be an intellectual to begin reading worthwhile books. You don’t have to start with something ancient or intimidating. Just read what interests you and enjoy yourself! In this case, the journey of reading is much more important than the destination of finishing the book.

I invite anyone who wants to join me to comment below with what book you plan on getting into first! I plan to post my reading list in a few days!

BTW: The book I’m reading right now is called Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla : Biography of a Genius.

The Sound of Gravel

I’ve always liked the sound of gravel under my feet. It reminds me of a BBC mystery, a walk on a blustery fall day, or running across a playground. But most of all, the sound of gravel has always represented for me the concept of  progression towards a goal. People who are treading slowly but surely towards their objective (or those who are running headlong towards it) can use the sound as an encouragement. With each footfall you know you are further along than you were before. With each new step you get new resolve and audible evidence of your progress.

In this ultimate journey called life, what is your “sound?” What is it that reminds you of your successes? What keeps you going and encourages you? Everyone’s sound is different and makes itself known in a different way.

It could be:

  • Your spouse or partner: Any good partner should be supportive and encouraging to you. If they are always bring you down or causing you grief maybe they aren’t relationship material.
  • Your family and friends: Like a partner, your friends and family can help guide you, give you good advice, and, if they aren’t supportive, be at the very least an example of what not  to do.
  • A lofty goal to which you aspire. These kinds of goals can inspire us to great heights and places we never thought we could go.

Whatever it is that reminds you to keep making progress, love others, and be a better person every day, be sure that it is something that you can be proud of. Don’t choose money, popularity, or stuff as your benchmark. These things when used in such a way have a tendency of eating up your life and becoming not a sound that helps you, but a thunderous din that makes you unable to grow. Find an uplifting “sound” that brings you joy and is wholesome in and of itself.

If you have found this idea of sound interesting, let me know what your thoughts are. Also if you can identify any sounds in your life that act as encouragements to you please share them!!