Author: Ramos, Jean

A Little Less of Me

Just a few days ago, I woke up feeling great, all seemed right with the world. After doing my morning devotions and prayers, I logged onto the CBA site and read my friend Cliff’s Christmas Welcome Column. Next, I made a post on the Message board; something lame… “What was your worst Christmas gift?” Next, I went over to Facebook to see what my friends were up to. There was a post from a friend in Uganda saying that he was praying for the people in Connecticut. It was then that I found out about the tragic events of that morning.

Events like these make us all aware of the frailty of life and we begin to re-evaluate our priorities. Tragedies like this tend to draw us closer together and we hold on a little tighter to the folks who mean the most to us. Suddenly, griping about a fruitcake that your Aunt Edith gave you for Christmas seems asinine and inconsequential.

At a time that is usually characterized by happiness and joy, we are mourning the loss of lives that have ended too soon. It’s too late to give them one last hug, a smile, a kind word, or a long stemmed rose that says, “I love you.”

In the wake of the Newtown, CT tragedy, many people, from the President on down were saying, “go home tonight and hug your child a little tighter.” I liked that idea. I would take it a little farther and encourage families to make a renewed commitment to one another. So many families are so busy with various personal pursuits that they have lost touch with each other. The family dinner has been replaced by a trip through the nearest golden arches and family togetherness consists of watching a movie or TV show that has no redeeming value; each family member is there with smart phone in hand and no more than 10 minutes of actual conversation has taken place.

When I was a child, our family ate breakfast, lunch and supper together, unless we were in school in which case we ate lunch in the school cafeteria. Eating at a restaurant was unheard of or a very rare luxury. If we did go on an outing that required us to be away from home during a mealtime, we usually planned ahead and made sandwiches or packed crackers and canned meats.

Dinner times at our house were not just about the food. We ate whatever our family raised, (chicken, beef, and hogs), grew, canned, cured, preserved, gathered, hunted or pulled out of the river; all healthy fare. The one thing that made our meals very special, even if it was just a pot of beans with a ham hock, was the love that went into it. Each family member took part in the preparation. My older brother chopped the wood for the stove, little ones helped carry it in. Older sisters peeled potatoes while younger sisters carried water from the spring for washing hands, cooking, and washing dishes.

Our family didn’t have two sets of china, one for “every day” and another set for special occasions. We had a conglomeration of mismatched plates, bowls and mugs. They served the purpose. There were no fancy linens; we had an oil cloth that covered the dinner table. In the winter time, the dining area was illuminated by a kerosene lamp.

The best part about mealtimes was conversations. Our family members knew what was going on in each others lives. Life was simple and yet hard back then. Today we have “modern conveniences” that make life easier. Easier does not necessarily mean better.
There was a certain amount of pride in eating food that was placed before you that had come by the sweat of your brow. There was much less waste and more thankfulness. This evening ritual made everyone feel loved and significant.

We can’t go back but we can move forward. Plan some family meals that involve the whole family. Use your good china and linens occasionally instead of saving them for “special guests.” There is no one more special than your family.

Speaking of family, the thing that drew me to becoming a member in an organization like the CBA is that we do become a “family” of sorts. As I said before, generally when a tragedy occurs, we come together for strength and consolation. We all felt outrage at the horrendous event in Connecticut. We felt powerless to ease the suffering and we needed to vent. Unfortunately, our comments and posts in the aftermath of tragedy quickly went from insightful, to “incite-ful,” from prayerful to provoking, from comforting to contentious; feelings were hurt and friendships were damaged. As Bruce Campbell mentioned in his Wednesday Column, it’s a good time to hit the “refresh” button.

I want to use the lyrics from a song written by Glen Campbell that have “spoken” to me as I re-evaluate my priorities in the hopes that it may bring help and healing to my CBA friends and family.

Let me be a little kinder
Let me be a little blinder to the faults of those around me
Let me praise a little more
Let me be when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery
Think a little more of others and a little less of me

Let me be a little braver when temptation bids me waver
Let me strive a little harder to be all that I should be
Let me be a little meeker with a brother that is weaker
Let me think more of my neighbor and a little less of me

Let me be when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery
Let me serve a little better, those I’m striving for
Let me show what I am giving is the reason for my living
Think a little more of others and a little less of me

At this time of the year, gift giving is a big part of family celebrations. It is fun to see the smiles and hear the laughter of children as they open their presents. After the wrappings are thrown in the trash, and the needles have dropped from the tree, remember that the gift giving can continue. There are many gifts we can give that don’t cost a dime; a word of praise, a hug, a song, a visit, a cheery letter or greeting card, an apology, a smile, forgiveness, a prayer and our precious time... “Think a little more of others and a little less of me.” Have a blessed holiday. I pray that the New Year brings you peace and joy.

Posted:  12/23/2012

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