When I was a child, the holidays were easy. We lived by a divorce agreement; the law decided our holiday plans. Every winter break from school, my brother and I went with our dad. He's Jewish, so we celebrated Hanukkah and left town at Christmas.
As I got older though, our cut-and-dry plans started to fray. Once I turned 18, and the divorce agreement was null and void, my parents drew a line in the sand: my holidays were fair game. Over the years, the pressure to divide my holiday time has become almost unbearable.
Recently, my parents, respectively, attempt to coax me to their holiday fetes with plane tickets and other treats.
I get angry at them. Because it's not just about them, it's also about me. It's about the pressure, and the guilt and being fair. Why can't they come here? Don't they know I work full time? Don't they know how stressful and expensive it is to squeeze everything into a couple of days?
Wait. What am I saying? I'm getting mad at my family because they want to spend time with me.
How selfish. I'm so fortunate. My family can afford to provide shelter, give us gifts and put food on the table. Most importantly, we love each other.
In many communities, not unlike ours, there are people who don't have these luxuries.
Stress is not getting on a plane to visit family or agonizing over what to buy the family dog for Christmas. Stress is losing your home and possessions in a fire, like the Proctor family did last week. Or what about losing a loved one. My thoughts turn to Payson High School student James Gibson, and my co-worker, Scott Smith, whose mothers recently passed away. Don't forget about the soldiers and civilians who have died in the war in Iraq.
Let our thoughts turn to former pastors of Rim Valley Church of God, Bea and Mike Lucero, whose grandson, Joshua, was killed in Fallujah on Thanksgiving Day. These families will feel their losses forever.
As we quibble over secret Santas, wrangle turkey legs and chop down Christmas trees, it's easy to forget that others suffer.
In a community as tightly knit as Payson, a person's pain touches everyone.
This season reach out to these people. Volunteer as a Salvation Army bell ringer to give needy families the basic necessities.
Make a donation to your favorite charity on your family's behalf.
Or just invite your neighbor over for Christmas dinner.