My children are 9, 8, and 7 years old. No matter how much I want to control the environment from which my children learn, I know I have limited influence. In God’s wisdom, this is exactly how it should be. It IS the wise path. My limited knowledge and childlike wisdom would only limit the potential of my children’s exponential ability to learn. My desire to control my children’s environment is selfish and narrow-minded, but stems from the innate emotional nurturing that comes with parenting. The desire to parent my children has to be balanced with the need for my children to grow and discover life for themselves. Temptation always pokes at me when I want to interject between my children quarreling or when I want to hold them tightly and protect them from everything when they face adversity. The temptation is great and yet, my inner voice reminds me that in order for my children to become strong, independent adults with the ability to successfully think for themselves and become wise in their own unique ways, I have to refrain from my impulses and appreciate their growing lives. Obviously, I’m not a bystander observing from a distance. I choose my battles and teach without taking credit. I give hints. I provide examples. I talk the talk and do my best to walk the walk. But, above all, whatever the truth may be, I seek to nurture my children with unconditional love. I also pray for guidance regarding my actions. I need fortitude and inner strength in order to ensure that I will make the wisest choices possible. I know that adversities lay ahead. And, because I am far from perfect, when I make mistakes, I have to be accountable for my actions, say sorry when needed, and grow from every experience so that I can be the best teacher for my children.
My wife and I are the first teachers for our children and we will remain a teaching force throughout the course of their lives. In that sense, we are shaping the people our children will become and how they will influence anyone they meet. It is truly an honor to be Blessed with this great responsibility. Even so, we are still a very small force in the learning curve that is life. Once children step foot into an environment that separates parent from child, external forces begin their own lessons that we, as parents, cannot control.
A period of innocence still rules before the adolescent years, but a child’s mind begins to develop a sense of curiosity that questions many things around them. People wouldn’t grow otherwise. For children 9, 8 and 7 years of age, I have had to apprehensively observe the beginning of adolescence. In those years of pre-adolescence, tales of wonder fill the imagination of what could be. Especially at this time, Kris Kringle and his wondrous adventures as Santa Claus keep the children yearning for the miracles that Christmas represents. Sure, for the kids, its toys, candies, and gifts galore. And yet, Santa Claus still represents a form of hope. My 8 year old son has friends who tell him that Santa isn’t real. And of course, my wife and I were told about this conversation from school. My wife and I looked at each other and I said, “Santa Claus is the Spirit of Christmas that gives hope to everyone.” Santa is real within each of us. Believe and we can make any reality come true.
I don’t know how or why, but somehow, my life has been shaped by limitless hope and that unyielding, limitless hope has led me to this very moment as I share my written expressions with all of you. Merry Christmas.
"The Christmas Song" (commonly subtitled "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" or, as it was originally subtitled, "Merry Christmas to You") is a classic Christmas song written in 1944 by musician, composer, and vocalist Mel Tormé and Bob Wells. According to Tormé, the song was written during a blistering hot summer. In an effort to "stay cool by thinking cool", the most-performed (according to BMI) Christmas song was born.
"I saw a spiral pad on his piano with four lines written in pencil", Tormé recalled. "They started, "Chestnuts roasting..., Jack Frost nipping..., Yuletide carols..., Folks dressed up like Eskimos.' Bob (Wells, co-writer) didn't think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics."
The Nat King Cole Trio first recorded the song early in 1946. At Cole's behest – and over the objections of his label, Capitol Records – a second recording was made the same year utilizing a small string section, this version becoming a massive hit on both the pop and R&B charts. Cole again recorded the song in 1953, using the same arrangement with a full orchestra arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, and once more in 1961, in a stereophonic version with orchestra conducted by Ralph Carmichael. Nat King Cole's 1961 version is generally regarded as definitive, and in 2004 was the most loved seasonal song with women aged 30–49, while Cole's original 1946 recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1974. Mel Tormé recorded the song himself in 1954, and again in 1961, 1966 and 1992.