The final First-Things-First post for the year is up and it's a good one too. In fact, given the time of year, it's very appropriate.
Here's some of my thoughts after reading the post...
Given that it's the end of the year, I've been thinking a lot about Christmas. My kids go to a Catholic school, so there's no problems with the concept of Christmas but I often wonder about children from other religions. I can understand that Christmas is a Christian concept but I feel that it's sad that some children miss out because of choices made by others.
Would I feel the same if the shoe was on the other foot? I don't know. I sometimes feel that if there was a Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or Hindi festival which was centred around the distribution of chocolate or presents then I'd want to be part of it.
For me, with my general dislike of organised religion (I believe that what you feel inside and how you treat others is more important than showing up at church), Christmas isn't about Santa and it isn't about a religious figure having a birthday. It's more about reaching the end of the year and taking a good look around to see who is still standing shoulder to shoulder with you.
It's about reaching out and touching those we've forgotten about or simply not had time for (Christmas cards) and remembering those we can't touch. To me, Christmas is about family and friends - and I think that applies to all people regardless of their beliefs.
Reading Gina's words "struck a chord" and made me think about all those friends who have wandered out of our lives because they became too difficult. It was happening BC (before children), people disappeared because my wife and I became a couple. Then they disappeared because we had children (and they didn't). Each time a group disappeared, a new but increasingly smaller wave of friends would appear. It was like ever-decreasing ripples. Of course, the big one was special needs. Mention this to people and they run a mile.
The circle of friends who have been with us from the beginning is now very small but fortunately those numbers have stopped shrinking. In my eyes, there is no difference between these people and family. We are one.
One of the side-effects of the friendship drop-off is that we start closing doors to future friendships. We begin to assume that everything is going to fail and when someone is out of contact for a while, we are quick to assume that they've written us off.
Gina's post reminds us that just as nature abhors a vacuum, so too does society. New friends come along when you least expect it and sometimes we simply need to be more open and accepting. It's a great message for everyone and an especially great message at this time of year.