Thoughts of Christmas Harriette Barker

Joy to the World the Lord has Come

Free Stock Photo: Red poinsettia flowers

Christmas has always been a very special time of the year for me.  In the Caribbean certain sounds, sights, food, and events are associated with the joyful season.   One of our popular Christmas songs recall these sounds. There are the noises of Christmas.  It is not loud; more like a hum, or echo in the air. Everyone and everywhere seems to reverberate with this special Christmas sound – the shoppers, Christmas cards, Christmas trees, the stores, decorations, special smiles and exchanges of good cheer.  Everyone is joyful and happy.

Over the years, we tend to focus more on the material side of Christmas.  There is Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and daily sales.  Merchants estimate how much money they are going to make. Family and friends are disappointed at the gifts that they receive. So, amidst the frantic preparations that drain our energy and pockets, I want to share my thoughts of Christmas.

Reconnection

A Caribbean Christmas means the joy of reconnection. There are many Caribbean families living in other countries.  Each year many of them return home to celebrate Christmas with family and friends.  I enjoyed such a reconnection a few years ago, when many of our family members were together at Christmas in almost thirty years.  It was a wonderful experience.  Joy was overflowing.

Sadly, there are some families who are disconnected, losing touch over the years.  The Christmas spirit, can help us to resolve petty differences, and bring us closer together through shared memories, increasing faith and love.

Reconciliation

andy at faith: The Purpose of Christmas ~ A Time for Reconciliation

Christmas is a time to open our hearts and allow the spirit of forgiveness to enter.  We should be forgiving of each other throughout the year, but at Christmas time there should be a greater focus.  Listening to the hymns and carols of Christmas we are reminded of the real purpose for Christ coming.

Many selfish and petty issues cause discord among families.  Unfortunately, these grievances can be heightened at Christmas time, sometimes resulting in fatal events.  Sadly, there are times when death separates us before we can be reconciled.  There is the grief of loss, and the despair of unforgiveness, that dampens our spirit.

There is a story of two armies having a cease-fire at Christmas time.  The soldiers exchanged chocolate, cookies, and cigarettes with each other.  Then they sang Silent Night.  For those brief moments in time war was forgotten and memories shared.

Reconciliation is an important part of our Christmas celebrations which should continue throughout the year.    There should be a greater emphasis on the spiritual than on the material.

Rejoicing

Christmas is a time of rejoicing, of hope and love.    The story of Christ’s birth is filled with praise.  It begins with Mary, Elizabeth, Zachariah, the Shepherds, the angels, the Wise Men all giving thanks and praise for the good news.  This is a time to rid ourselves of the sadness and despair that often overwhelms our daily lives.   We should make a big effort to resist gloom and encourage hope, as this is the promise of Christmas.

The Carols, hymns, and songs of Christmas are bright and joyful.  They lift our spirits and implore us to open our hearts to the joy of the season.   We can rejoice because the angels’ song of “peace to his people on earth” is a promise that Jesus would unite all of us in love.  Praise and rejoicing should be the cornerstone of our celebrations as we join with family and friends to share the joy of Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Generosity

 If ever there was a story of Christmas generosity to lift your spirits ...
Gift giving is an integral part of our Christmas celebrations. No one wants to be Scrooge.  We want that generous part of our nature to shine.  Sometimes we go overboard, placing ourselves in debt or becoming depressed when we are unable to live up to our own expectations. However, we should remember that the most generous gift was given to us.  God loves us and this was affirmed when he sent his Son to this earth.

The traditional giving of gifts at Christmas is an acknowledgment of the generous God who pardoned us and gave us a chance to receive everlasting life.  Although gifts are the outward expression of our love to others.  It should be remembered that a loving heartand kind deeds will last longer that the brightly wrapped packages.  This Christmas and throughout the year we need to share Christ’s love generously with our fellowmen.

Renewal

Our hymn of meditation reminds us that when Christ was born he brought joy into the world. The savior that had been promised throughout the ages had finally appeared. The world had eagerly anticipated his coming. Now he is here, and things have changed. On that first Christmas, there was also a sound. It was echoed in Israel where the people had waited many years for their Savior to come.  One of our Christmas songs reminds us of the wonders of the season.  Yet for many it, it is marked by depression, loneliness, separation, grief, and despair.

This Christmas, we need to refocus.  Instead of the pointless, endless race of shopping, partying, eating and drinking, we should immerse ourselves in understanding the reason and meaning of Christmas.  By bringing the glorious message of Christ birth into our hearts and homes, we can renew and energize our faith and hope. Let this Christmas be a holy day, where we worship the new born King.

Merry Christmas from my house to yours – Harriette Barker

 

Domestic Violence and the Holidays Harriette Barker, Ph.D, RN

Free Stock Photo: A red Christmas present isolated on a white background

 

Each year the decorations, shopping, bright lights, Christmas cheer, and celebrations signal the holidays.   Many people are happy, but others are emotionally, financially and socially stressed

Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and New Year are challenging for persons who are experiencing financial difficulty, loss or social isolation.  Many individuals also experience the “holiday blues,” a form of depression that is more prevalent during this season. Family stress may also be high.  If relationships are fragile, family gatherings may cause increased stress levels.   Partying and excessive alcohol intake are other sources of stress for many people.

Some police departments in the nation have reported an increase in domestic violence during this current holiday season.  However, a reason article in the Huffington Post on this issue suggested the idea of increased violence at holiday time is a myth, because “violence does not take a vacation.” According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, there is a reduction in the number of persons contacting their service during the holiday season. They suggested that concerns about keeping the family together during the holidays may be the main reason for under-reporting any violence.
Domestic violence can be physical, verbal or emotional.  It may be subtle or coercive.  The abuser may use financial, restrictive, isolation or exclusionary tactics to exercise control over their victim.  For example, not allowing her to use the car to visit family or friends.  In one situation, the abuser canceled a holiday luncheon without informing his partner.

Tips to reduce holiday abuse

  • Clear communication is the key in helping to prevent abuse.
  • Expressing your feelings calmly but firmly is important.
  • Head off situations that are escalating by leaving the room.
  • Eliminate provocative arguments
  • Take time to cool down.
  • Make a budget written in stone. No changes.
  • Monitor alcohol intake
  • Refrain from attention seeking behavior
  • Reach out to a resource when overwhelmed.

You can suddenly find yourself in an abusive situation.  It is important that you have a plan for getting help.  Family, neighbors or friends may be your first sources, but in abusive situations, it is better to contact 911.    Do not accept that your abuser is experiencing seasonal stress.   Do not use excuses to defend your abuser.

If you live in an abusive situation, holiday stress may easily exacerbate any interactions with your abuser.  There are a variety of resources in your community such as shelters, hotlines, churches, non-profit organizations and the police that will offer help.  You should keep a list of them and their contact numbers.  Domestic violence is often difficult to detect, so family and friends should be vigilant for any signs of its’ occurrence during this period.

 

National Domestic Violence Hotline  Number

24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). All calls are confidential and anonymous.

 

Immortality : Is it possible?

Rip Van Winkle

 

I hate cold weather.  Any temperature below 80 degrees is not my friend.  I was born, raised and lived in a hot climate until I came to the USA thirty years ago.  I have never adjusted to the cold.  I love the seasons of Spring, Summer, and early Fall, but Winter is a health challenge for me.

A few years ago, I was discussing buying a cemetery plot.  My dream was to be buried back in my hot country, then I changed my mind. I told the cemetery consultant about my dislike of the cold and my horror at being laid to rest in the damp, cold earth.  He promised that he would place an electric heater in my grave.   We had a good laugh about that.

Now, I realize that cold may not be a bad thing.  Other people are discovering this as well.   Besides traditional winter sports, hot chocolate and skating at Rockefeller Center, people are now paying to have their bodies frozen for one to two hundred years, until scientist hopefully finds a cure for their disease.   Then, hallelujah they will be brought back to life.

Cryotechnology is the science of freezing the body or head after death and preserving it in chemicals such as Nitrogen.   The body is placed in a chamber that has a temperature of one hundred degrees below zero. The cost is not cheap ranging from thirty-five thousand two hundred thousand dollars. Yet, there is no guarantee that you will live again.  One challenge for scientist using this technology is preventing the body from breaking down over time.

For the person who cannot tolerate the idea of being dead and buried, this technology offers an alternative that you may life again.  Even if medical doctors have found a cure for your disease, they have to figure out how to bring you back to life.

The big question –will this procedure work? The idea of freezing bodies after death was first introduced by Robert Ettinger in his book The Prospect of Immortality, which was published in 1965.  He was inspired by a science fiction story The Jameson Satellite.  At first, his idea was thought of as pseudo-science, but there are many people who have caught onto the idea, and there are several labs around the world who are using this technology.

Imagine what life will be like when you wake up after one or two hundred years later.  If only your head was frozen where will you get a body to match?  Like Rip Van Winkle the world around would have changed significantly.  Would you be able to recognize anything in this new advanced technological world?  What about your family and friends?  If they were frozen as well would they recognize you?  If you died at ninety years, how many more years would you have to live? And would you want to be frozen again?  Could a catastrophe event destroy the storage lab and all its data?    Is this a fad or a guarantee of life after death? There are so many questions with no guarantees.

Many of us believe that we will live again in a new dimension, but no one is sure.  Currently there are about one hundred and fifteen people in the US whose bodies are being preserved in this way, and about two thousand have applied for this technology.

In planning for your death would you consider this as an alternative to being buried or cremated?  Would this technology cause a conflict with your religious beliefs? Will this technology cause undertakers to lose their businesses?  There is a lot to ponder.