We just returned home from a speaking tour that took us to such diverse places as Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the country of Pakistan, Hawaii and Cleveland.
Indeed, we went from the heart of Islam to the heart of the Midwest. The tour allowed us to present to and interact with parents and families who are Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and secular humanists.
Despite all the cultural, economic and religious diversity that separates these people, there are two things that seem to unite them, particularly during Christmastime.
One is their love for family.
When you are with other parents, discussing the hopes and dreams we all have for our children along with the fears and concerns that all parents share, you feel a similarity and a commonality that transcends the religious or political or economic differences you might have.
All parents everywhere want the best for their kids, and want to teach them to be responsible, contributing members of society. We want to give them all that we can, yet we also want them to learn and grow by experience and by natural consequences.
Being with other parents and discussing and sharing both our successes and our failures creates a real bond that can sometimes feel so strong that you pretty much forget about whatever other differences you may have.
The other uniting thing, particularly at this time of year, is that most everyone, to one degree or another, feels the spirit of Christmas.
This spirit may range widely, from worship to a vague sense of goodwill, but we rarely meet someone who is not at least a little touched by the warmth and majesty of the Christmas tradition — by the idea of peace on earth and good will toward men.
Part of it may be a merchandising opportunity, but evidence of Christmas is observable even in non-Christian countries; and it seems to bring a degree of warmth and approachability in people pretty much everywhere, regardless of their beliefs. It just seems quite easy for almost anyone to find much to admire in the character and teachings of Jesus.
During this last trip, being fairly close to Christmas, the effect of these two unifying forces on us was twofold: one, to make us grateful for the commonality of feeling among all human beings; and two, to make us more grateful than ever for the faith that makes us not only respect Jesus Christ, but love him, worship him, revere him and be filled with awe for him.
At Christmas, we love to be reminded of C.S. Lewis’ warning to “beware of professed Christians who possess insufficient awe of Christ” and to proclaim to our children and to all the world our own deepest declaration of love and of wondering awe for our Creator, our Savior, our God and our Judge.
May we all both feel and convey these deepest of emotions this week as we celebrate Christmas with our families and those we love.
Richard and Linda are the founders of Joyschools.com and New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com or at www.valuesparenting.com.