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Dicy McCullough: Tis the season to melt bad feelings

Now that the Christmas holidays have come and gone, are you still caught in the afterglow of warmth and excitement from friends, family and fellowship?
Most families have annual traditions, such as getting together with children and grandchildren, going to a party at a friendís house or riding through neighborhoods looking for Christmas lights. For many, Christmas isnít complete without a worship service at church.
Our Christmas morning tradition includes a breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon and buttered biscuits. After breakfast, we exchange gifts and enjoy time together as a family. Later in the evening, our extended family gets together with cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. Everyone brings a favorite dish, and while enjoying our meal, we catch up on the latest news. After the meal, we play a fun game.
The game we play has different names, but we like to call it ěDirty Santa.î Each person draws a number and, starting with No. 1, chooses a gift from under the tree. What makes it especially fun is that others can steal your gift. Also, each player must be careful not to choose a gag gift. The funniest gag gifts through the years have been my mother-in-lawís ětacky Christmas sweat shirts.î Mary passed away 16 years ago, but while living, each Christmas sheíd dress in tacky sweat shirts and matching ear bobs in order to make the grandchildren laugh. The lucky family member who unwraps any of these during the game has to have his or her photo taken wearing the items. This is so much fun, family members who might not be getting along often forget disagreements and just enjoy the moment.
What better time than Christmas to forgive and forget? A game may be one way of melting away bad feelings, but another sure way is worshipping together at church. One of the sweetest and most touching services of the year for many is the Christmas Eve service. So often in the hustle and bustle of everyday life we donít slow down enough to deal with whatís really wrong or bothering us.
Worship encourages us to take a look inside and deal with those feelings. It also helps us come to terms with what is really important in this world. Two thousand years ago, the angel proclaimed, ěPeace on Earth, good will toward men.î Jesus came not only to give us life, but to give us peace. Even medical experts tell us our bodies are healthier when we donít harbor bitterness, anger, jealously or strife. While it may be hard to forgive others who have wronged us, we only hurt ourselves when we harbor those kind of toxic feelings.
Christmas is a good time to make peace, not only with family members, but also with acquaintances. Over the years, Iíve found people who were the hardest to get along with were people who were hurting the most. Once I made the effort to get to know them, often the walls came down, and the real person was revealed.
While itís true this is not a perfect world and weíre not going to get along all of the time, itís worth the effort to try. Why not pick up the phone and surprise someone with, ěIím sorry. Will you forgive me?î What a great way to start 2012, fresh and new.
Hereís to ěPeace on Earth, good will toward men.î

Dicy McCulloughís book, ěTired of School,î is available on amazon.com, dicymcculloughbooks.com and at local bookstores. Contact her at 704.278-4377.

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