Christian Counseling of Mid Michigan

Healing for the heart, mind, and soul.


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Christmas Celebrations

The staff here at Christian Counseling of Mid Michigan, would like to share with you some of our most meaningful experiences from Christmas past and traditions that we share with our families. Our hope is that by sharing our memories you will be inspired to create and share your own traditions and memories with your family. Traditions help families to bond and give meaning to holidays they are activities that bring pleasure to each member and deepen our love for each other.

Joyce:  Christmas 1970 – Ames, Iowa. Family- Mom, Dad, and Eric 2 years old. Iowa winter was so, so cold. Our cars need a heating pad and blanket over the battery and engine. The radiator has a heater too. The day before Christmas, Dad goes to find a Christmas tree. Safeway has one left! It is free! We were poor! But, it is also bent and crooked with limbs at odd angles. A true Charlie Brown tree. Eric didn’t care! It was decorated with everything we could find or make. Popcorn, cranberries, candy canes, lights, and bright balls. At the end, our tree was still odd but we loved it and Eric always remembered that tree as the best tree. The pictures come out each year. Our Charlie Brown Christmas made us feel rich in love and helped us remember Christ’s humble entrance into the world.

Joan: My daughter, daughter-in-law, and I packed two of my little grandchildren on a sled while my eight and eleven year old grandchildren trudged with us through the deep snow of Charlevoix. The children’s mission was to give away one hundred dollars that had been given to them for Christmas (for this purpose). They had to make decisions about how to distribute their monetary gifts in meaningful ways.  I followed the children from restaurant, to pharmacy, to fudge shop, and beyond. Among other donations, they paid for a couple’s breakfast, bought coffee for a window washer, contributed to a costly prescription, treated a young girl to her favorite donuts, bought fudge for a child, and were genuinely thrilled by the gratitude their generosity inspired. This was a touching lesson in the joy of giving to others that will remain with them (and me) for years to come!

Emily: My favorite holiday tradition…On Christmas morning we put a candle in a coffee cake and after reading the Christmas story from the Bible we sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. It is a great reminder to even the youngest kids that Christmas means more than just gifts.

Duane: Christmas is a time to celebrate our family bonds and see love for each other. And a time to celebrate the source of our blessing through Jesus Christ.

Kara: I have two greatest Christmas memories with my family.  One that we still do to this day is my Dad will read the Christmas story from the Bible on Christmas morning then we sing a few Christmas carols and he prays for each of us individually before we open presents.  The second tradition we no longer do, but I have great memories of it from when I was younger.  My Mother was usually done with her shopping very early and my parents would often put all the presents under the tree a few weeks before Christmas.  To keep things interesting though, our actual names would not be on the presents, instead, there would be code names on the presents and we had until Christmas morning to figure out the code in order to know which presents were ours.  I can remember sorting the gifts by their code name, counting them (of course we all thought we were the code name that had the most presents!), and spending hours trying to crack the code.  In the end, my Dad usually gave us a clue that would give it away.

Jimi: My sister’s birthday is Christmas Eve, and when we were growing up, we would go out for dinner on our birthdays. After mass, the only restaurant open on Christmas Eve was Burger King. So, we would go to Burger King for Whoppers after mass, then head home to open one present before bed.

Catherine: My favorite Christmas tradition began with my parents. My family would attend the Candlelight Christmas Eve church service. After church, we would drive around looking at the beautiful lawn decorations while Santa Clause delivered our presents. When we got home from our drive, my dad would turn off all of lights except for the Christmas tree. My mom would sit close to the tree and have us kids sit on the floor facing the nativity. Mom would read the Christmas story from the bible and then we would sing a couple of Christmas Carols. My parents let my brothers, and I each open one small present before going to bed. My husband and I have continued these traditions with our children and added the celebration of Advent. Our children look forward to singing the songs and lighting the candles each week marking the anticipated Joy of Jesus birth. The three of them have commented many times over the years that they will carry on the Christmas traditions with their children.

Jerry: When I was a teenager, my mother would often babysit the girls across the street. One Christmas, the parents decided to give many gifts to the girls (divorced parents seeking to buy approval). The youngest waded in and soon had the paper ripped off all of her packages. Then, in a demanding voice, she asked, “is this all?” That scene, etched in my mind, carried over to the days when our two children approached Christmas. My wife and I decided to do the Twelve Days of Christmas, but with a twist. Starting on December 13, we handed each child a small gift, enjoyed the moment of opening and ‘Ooos’ and ‘Ahhs’ and then we went about the day. When Christmas came, the kids already had many days of anticipation and opening. The traditional opening of gifts was done with the usual excitement that surrounds Christmas. This tradition was carried on into their late teen years.

Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year,

Joyce, Jimi, Jerry, Joan, Duane, Emily, Kara, and Catherine

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Are you ready for the holidays?

The holiday season is upon us. Are you prepared to handle the family dynamics? MindBodyGreen has a great article with 5 tips.

1. Create a solid understanding of who you are and what matters to you.

2. Don’t try to solve other people’s problems.

3. Carve out time to get into your body.

4. Allow other people their autonomy and their opinions.

5. Set boundaries that make you feel good.

To read more about these tips, please follow the link to the article in MindBodyGreen:

5 Tips To Handle Family Dynamics During The Holidays.

 


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Thanks Giving

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV

November is the beginning of three months of holiday celebration beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with New Year’s Eve. The purpose behind each of these holidays is to gather together with family and friends to rejoice, first for an abundant harvest, next for the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and last, well actually first, to welcome a new year. As I ponder, the events that most families will be preparing to celebrate. I wonder, what does it mean to be thankful?

Thanksgiving, is a strange word. Thanks means to be appreciative, for food, jobs, shelter, and relationships. Giving means to share out of what you have, to pass on to another without expecting something back in return.  Sometimes it can be hard to be thankful in the midst of turmoil and loss. It seems like our finances are stretched thinnest during the holidays when we can least afford it. Spouses lose their jobs, health problems develop, bills come due, utilities increase, and the kids always have needs. Life is filled with stressful events beyond our control, and we wonder how we are going to make it.

There is hope. God provides. He takes care of his children and blesses them. He gives them what they need. It sounds corny and hard to believe, but it is true. All God asks of us in return is for our gratitude and worship. When we thank God in the middle of a messy life situation, when our hearts are breaking and we cannot see our way out, thanking God makes the situation more bearable. When we give out of the little we have, our hearts begin to heal and we are blessed. In Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4, Jesus used the example of the widow who gave her last coin and the wealthy who gave out of their abundance. God blessed the widow because her gift was a sacrifice that she gave without expecting something in return. She gave knowing it was her last bit of income; she gave out of her love for God.

The miracle in Thanksgiving is the eternal blessing of God’s love that he gives freely without expecting or demanding something in return. When we share with others, relationships are forged and become the food of blessing. May our Lord and Savior bless you and your family this Thanksgiving season with his cornucopia of love, family, and manna from heaven.

Catherine L. Thorington, B.S.

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