All Year Long
Around this time of year, there seems to be an influx of feel-good stories. That’s all great, but I often wonder why we don’t feature more of them all year long. I’ve heard that soup kitchens and places that assist the homeless have no shortage of help around the holidays, but they need help every day of the year. An atmosphere is created around this season that encourages and promotes people to do good and be kind, but that should be our mantra every day. They say that not much activity happens at businesses around this time of year because people take time off, there are Christmas functions to attend and businesses just seem to slow down a bit. I simply wonder why this cycle happens only once a year.
Is it true in your family life, too? Do people in your circle of intimacy put forth more effort because it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, and yet you silently wish they could be this way all year long? If you do, you are probably not alone. While I’m sure there’s a handful of Grinches out there who don’t change no matter what the season, there are a few hearts that softened because of how the atmosphere is charged with good will toward everyone. However, as a spouse and parent, that should be your goal every day. That doesn’t mean you will achieve it perfectly each day, but that should be what you strive for on a regular basis.
Instead, I think what happens is that we often feel like we are doing good enough. We compare ourselves to someone we know that is doing half of what we are accomplishing, and we feel good. We think that at least we aren’t like so-and-so. Or my wife or husband should feel fortunate that I’m not like that guy or gal. We think our kids should enjoy the fact that we aren’t as strict as their friend’s parents or that at least we spend more time with them than that person’s mom or dad.
I find it’s easier to compare down instead of comparing up. We all know of someone who is a superstar spouse or parent, and when we encounter their example, we rationalize our behavior by belittling what they do as over the top or something that not everyone has time to accomplish. We find a flaw instead of feeling awe. Our first instinct is not to admire them but find fault in what they do. Instead of finding something to learn from, we find something to criticize. We do what we can to demean what they’re doing so that we remain in a favorable light.
That begs the question, “What mirror are you using to reflect your own efforts?” Are you stepping things up just around the holidays or is your effort strong all year long? The Christmas stories our children watch warn that Santa is checking his list all year long, not just the weeks leading up to Christmas.
That same warning should apply to all of us. What energy are we putting forth into our marriage and family every day? What can we do to sustain doing good all year long and not just the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas? If you’ll think about that and put some ideas into practice now, you’ll have a better chance of winning at home.