By Angela Liddle
One of the lessons we can take from this season of light and enlightenment is that even Ebenezer Scrooge and The Grinch were transformed from their miserable states to a place of joy and peace. In each case, their hearts grew bigger, their souls softer. I’ve felt jostled around a good bit this year with more challenges and detours from my comfort zone than I can count. Perhaps I have not lived in the miserable state of Scrooge and Grinch but most certainly I have not experienced nearly enough belly laughter and levity.
Earlier this evening, my four-year old granddaughter Hailey and I upheld what she now counts on as tradition at Mae Mae’s house – the decorating of her very own tree.
he danced around to holiday music, gently touched her special ornaments, and the mere reflection of tree lights on her face successfully brought tears to mine. We cuddled on the couch and read most of her Christmas books; she listened as if hearing the stories for the very first time and in watching her, perhaps they were new reads for me too. And so it is that each of us can start anew. We can mark the turning of the calendar to a New Year and become less burdened by disappointment, hate, jealousy, and rejection. We have to make room in our lives for a little love and levity. How do we do it?
Well, just as our children learned to walk, we have to take baby steps. For example, 2016 has taught me that I can wade my way through a lot of change and be mostly graceful through the process. None of us enjoys extended times of upheaval brought on by moving to a new community or work projects that seem to take longer than expected or planned. But in these times we can learn to trust the process and we can have within us a sense of determination that we can see things through to completion, or perhaps a sense of comfort once again.
I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions but I am big on always striving for improvement and that takes resolve. As I gladly wind down this calendar year and look to a new one, I resolve to be more patient with myself and search for laughter if it does not come easily to me on its own. I resolve to be generous, both with myself and others, even when every instinct tells me to be stingy – with my time, my energy, and my financial resources. A giving heart fortifies itself. The Grinch’s heart grew three times and Ebenezer Scrooge’s icy heart melted when they began lifting the spirits of those around them. I commit to giving more of my time to the people I hold most dear.
Spend some time thinking about your own words, “Let it be resolved …” Whatever you identify as spots within yourself and your life that could use a little “perking up,” make sure you include enough room for adding joy. What makes you laugh out loud? For me, it’s a silly 30-minute TV show called The Big Bang Theory. Other days, it is almost anything my daughter Kelsey says because she has a way of reaching my funny bone. Whatever sparks your joyful moment, relish it. Celebrate it. Find the time and space to indulge in the guilty pleasure of laughing heartily. Charlie Chaplin put it perfectly, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” And remember, your children needed your help and encouragement with every developmental milestone and you will add to their good health by demonstrating the place laughter and levity have in life.
Don’t waste a single day of 2017. Be it resolved. I will live, love, and laugh my way through the New Year.
By Angela Liddle
When you gather with family and friends this holiday season, what will top your list of blessings? Good health? A job promotion? That fabulous new car in the driveway that you’ve always wanted? Or will it be something less material and more soulful? Like the sound of your child’s laughter. Or the burst of color as you walk together through a swirl of falling leaves. Or the powerful bond you feel with that little person as you share a bedtime story.
Our lives and work are measured so often now in Facebook likes and Twitter retweets, in Instagram followers, or the latest Google analytics. We can measure almost everything we do by virtue of algorithms. But how do we calculate the value of time spent nurturing our children and grandchildren? Or the impact, large and small, that kids have on society’s emotional and physical well-being?
My job requires me to delve into the darker sides of human behavior and measure their impact on children. I’m forced to explore the horrific reality of children’s deaths and injuries at the hands of perpetrators, some of whom are their parents, caregivers, and so-called “loved ones.” Those numbers are recorded in an annual state report. The statistical analysis of child abuse’s toll exposes it as a public health epidemic. But it’s so much more than that. Death by child abuse robs us each year of the equivalent of a classroom of children in Pennsylvania. We lose their laughter, their innocence, their creativity, their essence. They are gone forever as if whispers on the wind.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Child abuse is preventable.
Through strong parenting programs, family-support activities, community-awareness efforts, and educating professionals and community members how to recognize and report child abuse, we can create a safer world for our children. Each one of us has a role to play in protecting kids from abuse and neglect. I urge you this holiday season to become more soulful about Pennsylvania’s children and the incalculable worth they bring to you and our world. They are our richest, dearest blessing. Become actively involved in Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance’s work of protecting kids by hosting one of our Front Porch Project community workshops. Take a parenting class at a PFSA- affiliated agency in your region. Or, enroll you and your coworkers and employees in our free, on-site, face-to-face training session in how to recognize and report child abuse.
You can learn more at our website. Remember, every kid needs a champion. Let us count you as a blessing to PA’s kids this holiday season.