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Birthdays are much like any holiday... just normal days apart from some special meaning that we try to inject into them. However, because of the nature of traditions, the special thoughts that we send to people on birthdays or other holidays can become a drudge. Even the recipients of our good wishes must realise at times that they are not spontaneous. Worst still, the most genuine efforts to express love often go unappreciated because the recipient has presumed that he/she will (and perhaps must) be remembered. The only "surprise" may be that you did not do or give as much as the birthday child had expected.

I would like to suggest that we try to do away with good wishes that are associated with special days, and work, instead, on expressing positive thoughts on the basis of some more appropriate criteria.

We are hoping in the New Year that each of you Jesus Christians will get yourselves more organised with regard to a list of people to shepherd (or at least contact) on a regular basis throughout the year. It should not be all that hard for us to make some effort to express appreciation, etc. to other members of the community at least once during the year as well. The important thing, however, is that it should be based on genuine appreciation. (And I think there is good reason for appreciating everyone on the planet, if we will just look for it.)

With relatives and friends in the system, it may be a bit much not to give them some recognition on birthdays, Christmas, etc. However, even there, it is a bit like titles of respect. Titles alone do not have as much meaning as really respecting someone; yet, the average systemite would often prefer the "form" of respect to the real thing. Strange, isn't it?

It could be an interesting challenge, to wean friends and relatives off dependence on traditions, so that they could get into real love and real respect. Perhaps some of you could work at cutting down on birthday and holiday recognition and replacing it with far more recognition through other channels. Maybe we could get some friends and family to see the superiority of such an approach.

Instead of one visit (or phone call) at Christmas, what about two (or more) during the year? Instead of a card for their birthday, what about two "remembrance cards" (or thank you cards, or just nice letters) during the year?

Please note that this is only a suggestion. However, I think that within the community, we almost need to make it an across-the-board rule, because it is so easy to offend people if you send a card to some and then do not send to others. By just sending notes of appreciation (rather than cards), and doing it more or less randomly, you will avoid the comparisons that can happen much more easily with regard to birthdays, especially when a birthday is forgotten.

I will be awaiting feedback on this, with regard to everyone's thoughts. What do you think?

Love, Dave

(See also In the Name of the Father.)

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