Helping Hands

A couple of weeks back, I talked about summer vacations and how over-scheduled we sometimes make them.  I recommended taking more time to relax and enjoy time with family, which are ultimately the most important memories we can make.

Now I’d like to take this idea a step further.

I want to share with you a story from the childhood of a friend.  There was a family they were close to whose father had contracted HIV through a blood transfusion (this was in the 80’s, before screening tests and effective drug cocktails).  He was in the long, painful process of dying, and the family was struggling.

My friend’s parents decided they & the kids would do the 12 days of Christmas for this family.  Each day, they took over presents: 5 mugs of hot cocoa, 6 loaves of homemade bread and so on.  There were several small children in this family that figured out what was going on and made a game of trying to catch who was leaving the gifts.

So, the gift-givers started getting up at five o’clock in the morning to leave these presents at their doorstep.  Each time they came close to getting caught, my friend’s family would up their game, too.

My point?   My friend describes this as the best Christmas he remembers from his childhood.

Time spent with family.  Being of service.  Focusing on giving instead of taking.  There seems to be a theme in here somewhere.

And maybe here it is.  When we slow down and don’t over-schedule our lives, we not only have time to connect with each other, we have time to give a helping hand.  We connect, not only with our own families, but with the larger family of human-kind.

And you certainly don’t need to be an adult to learn how to be ‘of service.’

My friend’s experience was at the age of 8.  If you haven’t heard the story, 17-year-old high-school student, Rachel Eskenazi-Gold, wrote a song to benefit mothers worldwide.  Her efforts were noticed by composer Hans Zimmer, who convinced other professional musicians to come in to help.  You can read about the “Save an Angel” project here.

As a final note, I want to talk another way for us to reach out a hand to help others.  This one’s near and dear to my heart.  I’m on the board of directors for Aid Still Required, which is a charity that helps to rebuild communities after natural disasters.

While it’s been five years since Katrina hit, and it’s fallen off the media’s radar for the most part, there are still so many that suffer.  Last week, Aid Still Required released a CD, benefiting those communities still hurting.  You can download the entire CD from iTunes here.

Maybe take some time and do it together as a family.  Go to the Aid Still Required site and see how your contribution can immediately help those in need.  One more cherished memory to create, connecting with loved ones while we reach out to the world.

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