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Not Your Average Holiday E-mail Wish

We all get them...the holiday e-mail wishes that we delete just as quickly as we throw away season's greetings cards that are mailed to us. Well, over the last two years I believe I have written some pretty good holiday messages. Two years ago I encouraged you to put down the smart phones and be more present during the holidays -- still a relevant message today! Very relevant. Then, last year, I shared a Christmas Eve sermon on thankfulness I would give as a pastor - also still relevant today.

This year I am writing about the perfect gift to give to family and friends: Listening. We just came through an incredibly bitter campaign which greatly aggravated our tendencies to talk past each other, and over each other. We are so obsessed wanting to show how brilliant we are and get in the last word, that we just don't listen. We don't hear why people feel or believe certain things. This is true for not only political opponents, but also spouses, parents, children, co-workers, and seemingly everyone else on the planet. Talk, talk, talk, and more talk...but not enough listening. Bah Humbug, and please shut up for more than five seconds!

Want to give someone the perfect gift...something they will really treasure? Make them feel heard. Try at least once a day to sit down and really listen to one person. Anyone. Your spouse. Your kid. Your co-worker. An old person who is scared and lonely, or a young person bursting with life. Someone who is angry, or maybe somebody who is joyful. Find somebody - anybody! -- and just listen. Close your mouth, put away the smartphone, open your ears, and let another soul tell their story. No gift receipt will be necessary.

A very Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to all of our friends. See you in 2017!

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