It seems like not too long ago, I was providing a legislative session wrap-up and here I am already talking about Christmas! While some people are fretting about the few number of shopping days left until Christmas, I am still trying to figure out where the past year has gone!
Christmas embodies different things for different people, particularly when it comes to traditions. By now, you have probably heard me share my family’s love of music. Music is something that has been a part of my life for a very long time, and we always incorporated it into our Christmas celebrations.
Growing up, my mom was the organist for our church choir, and every year, we attended midnight Mass with her as she played. When I was in middle school, I started playing the trumpet along with the choir. About that same time, my family also started going caroling to spread Christmas cheer to neighbors and relatives in the area. Now that I have my own family, I have kept these traditions going.
This year, my children and I will be playing our musical instruments with the choir at midnight Mass, and our family will still be going caroling; my parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews alike. We will start our Christmas caroling at the local nursing homes, and then visit friends and family in the area as well.
While keeping the old, my wife and I also started a new Christmas tradition when we got married: making candy and cookies together. As the years go on, we have added a few more types of candy, most of which are some form of chocolate (my favorite). We also started with just sugar cookies and have since added gingerbread and peanut butter cookies as well. Each year, we make enough cookies and candy to give to all of our family and friends over the holidays.
While many of us share precious family traditions, it is also important to think beyond our own celebrations and remember those who may not be so fortunate. For many of us, when we think of Christmas, a Christmas tree with presents underneath and a big home cooked meal are a given, but many others still go without that each year.
Christmas is about traditions, but it is also about being thankful for the many blessings in our lives, and with that comes giving back. This year, I challenge us all to do one good deed for someone else. This can be anything from leaving a bigger tip after dining out, putting some change in the Salvation Army kettle outside Kmart or Walmart, providing toys to children in need, or even volunteering to serve food at a shelter on Christmas Day.
If you are interested in finding ways to give back locally, you can visit Indiana’s volunteer website atwww.in.gov/ofbci/volunteer. Or, to find a food pantry in our local communities including Jasper, Loogootee, Washington or Petersburg, please visitwww.foodpantries.org/st/indiana.
With Christmas right around the corner, what I am most looking forward to is having the family together again. As I am sure many of you know, when you have four kids, one in high school, one in college and two out of college, schedules can get very hectic, very quickly! I truly cherish those times that we can all be under the same roof, reconnecting and spending quality time together.
I hope this Christmas ends the present year on a cheerful note, and may the peace and blessings of Christmas be yours today and throughout the New Year.