Stop, Look, and Listen

by April Purtell

During the holiday season do you feel that an avalanche of things and responsibilities is about to come tumbling down on you? It’s the opposite of what you desire to be feeling–for you and your family. Do you remember being told as a child to stop, look, and listen at crosswalks? Well, the same advice is good for holidays. In fact, it’s good advice all year long.

Stop. Little hearts long to be noticed. They grab knees, tug on clothing, cry, and holler just to get your attention. But you have to stop the avalanche first. Stop and turn towards the seeker of attention. We all have little hearts so it could be a widowed grandmother, single friend, or teen rather than a young child.

Look. There’s something about eye-to-eye contact that is other-worldly. It adds something to what we say that nothing else can. But you have to stop before you can really look. Touch works in a similar way. One of my Bible college instructors would say, “I love you,” and touch my shoulder. That went a long way in healing my own little heart.

Listen. This Thanksgiving I was at a friend’s house and was talking to the new girlfriend of my friend’s son. We were talking about friendship and how that involved listening to the stories of each other’s lives. She said, “My mom’s my best friend. She wants to hear what I’ve done and everything I’ve thought everyday.”

So stop, look, and listen this holiday season. Take the time to make memories that the little hearts in your life will hold dear the rest of their lives. It won’t be things, but it may involve things. Cocoa, hugs, special movies or stories, sitting close in the pew hearing the Christmas story one more time, making cookies that Uncle Jim loves.

I have two nephews who are the loves of my life. I tell the younger, “I love you,” and he always responds, “I love you, too.” That sounds somewhat pedestrian, but if you could hear his voice go up at the end, you’d understand why it grabs me. I frequently tell the elder, “I fell in love with you the moment I saw you. You were only 30 minutes old.” “Why was that?” he responds. “I can’t tell you, it just happened.” I think, no I hope, that he’ll always remember that. He never gets tired of hearing it. We all want to be noticed, thought of, remembered. It only costs some time, thought, and caring. Stop now and make a memory.


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