For me, last year’s Juneteenth Celebration at Franklin Park here in Boston was the best. A city park filled with happy black friends, colleagues, and families all enjoying the moment of good weather, good friends, and definitely good barbecue. This annual celebration took place every third Saturday in June from early morning where you staked out your location till the evening when the charcoal embers smolder from the sizzle of the grill.
So Much Fun In Franklin Park
In addition to the families who turned out in the 2019 sunshine, many local, state, and national organizations proudly set up tables, stands, and entire corners of the park to display their emblems, symbols, logos, and signage in full recognition of Juneteenth’s real meaning…freedom for all in a joyous celebration. I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, founded 107 years ago on the campus of Howard University. I am from a family of Deltas, including my sister in law, an older daughter, cousin, and my late mother. Last Juneteenth, I hung out with my Delta sisters, who proudly pitched a red and white tent at the Franklin Park celebration. And we were not alone! We were surrounded by the other black sororities and fraternities, including Alpha Kappa Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Sigma Gamma Rho, Iota Phi Theta.
Those were just the black Greek-letter organizations present at last year’s Juneteenth Celebration. We were also joined by the NAACP, Urban League, Nation of Islam, various church groups, political campaigns, and healthcare advocacy organizations. I invited two of my clients to attend so that they could see the black community's interconnection in a unified celebration of harmony and happiness. My clients saw how they could proactively build a relationship with multiple groups and constituencies within an arm’s reach of their headquarters.
There were no speeches, no planned programs, no political debate. Just plain ol’ fun, with soul, hip hop, R&B, dance musicand the electric slide blasting everywhere.
It was beautiful. It was Juneteenth 2019.
An Alternative To June 19, 1997
And it was a soothing way for me to block out June 19, 1997 the date I buried my 17-year-old son who had died in a single-occupant car crash that year days after graduating from high school.
Now I think of Juneteenth differently this year, where social distancing and an angry virus have robbed residents and citizens around the country from holding picnics or parades in commemoration of Juneteenth. We know this year there are large gatherings of peaceful protesters marching to restore dignity and safety in the black community following the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, D. J. Henry, Sandra Bland and far too many more. And we also know that Black Lives Matter is not just a catchy slogan by progressive liberals. It’s become a new “call to action” mounted on signs and placards and held by black, white brown, Asian, Arab, English, French, Kenyan, Brazilian, and Jamaican faces all over the world!
History of Juneteenth
The historic proclamation announced on a balcony by Union Army General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865 that ALL slaves throughout America were free. The announcement was made in Galveston, Texas, because selfish white Texas plantation owners kept their slaves in bondage long after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863. They even held onto their slaves after the last Civil War shot was fired in April 1865. So you can only imagine how astonished those ex-slaves were in Galveston tasting freedom for the first time, nearly 2.5 years after the fact.
It’s that historical reality that has made Juneteenth such a festive celebration throughout the country. Clearly there are other “black holidays and traditions” that have more recognition than Juneteenth. It’s just this year, with the triple pandemic - (1) COVID-19, (2) the teetering economic, and(3) racial strife, Juneteenth came center stage when a racist president picked June 19th to hold his “Make America Great Again” rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The voices of protest pushed back, causing the autocrat to move his political mob scene to the next day, June 20th.
Only the Appetizer
The bottom line is go on and celebrate Juneteenth. Make it a national holiday, take the day off from work, and hold countless socially distanced picnics and discussion in its honor. But don’t make it an end-all. It’s the appetizer in a full course meal that hasn’t even been cooked yet. That seven-course meal must include many more intentional initiatives, policy actions, police lobotomies, and economic course correctors if this country is going to really set sail in a new direction.
So enjoy Juneteenth. But make sure you save room for the remaining six courses that will really take us somewhere into a future guaranteeing justice, economic access, and freedom for all.
By Carole Copeland Thomas
Periodic flashbacks of conversations with my late mother, Gwendolyn Charleston Copeland, come roaring back in my head from time to time. “Yes, your grandfather’s eyesight was indirectly affected by the Great Influenza of 1918. He had to go to eye specialists for treatment before he fully recovered some years later,” my mother would remind me. My grandfather was Rev. James Arminius Charleston, a well-respected pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). During that era, he pastored Bethel AME Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the birthplace my mother. He later pastored other churches in the midwest and, ultimately St. Paul AME in Detroit.
That family story is one I am now researching and makes the 1918 Spanish Influenza a relevant historic event in my search for truth.
Little did I realize how much that event compares with the raging pandemic of COVID-19, some 102 years later. And when you watch the documentaries and read the books on that tragic event that killed between 50-100 million people worldwide, the similarities will make you weep.
Case in point. Pubic health officials begged organizers and elected officials to cancel the Fourth Liberty Loan Drive Parade in Philadelphia on September 28, 1918. Other cities realized the rapid spread of the deadly influenza virus and canceled their celebrations. Yet the Philadelphia decision-makers ignored the medical professionals and held the parade anyway. The results were a devastatingly high loss of life, killing World War I soldiers, ordinary families, and the innocent equally by the menacing flu virus.
An article in the September 2018 Smithsonian Magazine described it this way:
"Within 72 hours of the parade, every bed in Philadelphia’s 31 hospitals was filled. In the week ending October 5, some 2,600 people in Philadelphia had died from the flu or its complications. A week later, that number rose to more than 4,500. With many of the city’s health professionals pressed into military service, Philadelphia was unprepared for this deluge of death.
Attempting to slow the carnage, city leaders essentially closed down Philadelphia. On October 3, officials shuttered most public spaces – including schools, churches, theaters and pool halls. But the calamity was relentless. Understaffed hospitals were crippled. Morgues and undertakers could not keep pace with demand. Grieving families had to bury their own dead. Casket prices skyrocketed. The phrase “bodies stacked like cordwood” became a common refrain. And news reports and rumors soon spread that the Germans –the “Huns” – had unleashed the epidemic." *
Fast forward to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Alarm bells rung by medical professionals in the US and around the world about inadequate medical supplies and ventilators. Delayed responses by elected officials who are urged to put their countries, states, or municipalities in lockdown. Hospital beds in short supply. And the general public forced to quarantine at home to save their lives.
In both 1918 and 2020, healthcare professionals were first responders, industry experts, and clarion callers in a world turned upside down. The 1918 flu pandemic was further complicated by the fighting forces during World War 1. Healthcare professionals 102 years apart stand shoulder to shoulder in agreement with keeping the general public acutely aware of how to stay safe when a pandemic virus spreads like wildfire.
Our modern-day heroes are the men and women in healthcare. It doesn’t matter what positions they hold, from doctors to hospital administration executives to nurses, to lab technicians, to dietary aides to the cleaning staff. They ALL play a vital role in the fight against COVID-19. Overcrowded hospitals, nursing/veteran home scares, long hours, countless sick patients, and the steady uptick of the dying have become the order of the day for our frontline healthcare professionals. They deserve our attention and our respect as they wage germ warfare in regions across the world.
As my mother reminded me about my grandfather’s condition, we are reminded today about how one virus can knock out whole populations in the blink of an eye. In 1918, it was the flu virus. In 2020 the coronavirus looms large. And our future largely lies in the hands of millions of healthcare professionals who save lives through their sacrificial service throughout our communities.
To all of our healthcare professionals, we salute you because of your selflessness in the face of danger and uncertainty.
Resources For Research
World War 1: 100 Years Later
Philadelphia Threw a WW1 Parade That Gave Thousands of Onlookers The Flu
By Kenneth C. Davis
The Great Influenza
By John M. Barry
Watch this 2005 interview of John M. Barry. He authored the book: The Great Influenza: The A Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. The book details the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic. Sadly, we are repeating some of the same obstacles that occurred 102 years ago. It took him seven years to write this book.
1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic
Here is an excellent documentary about the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Although a different germ, the response and reactions are eerily similar to what we are dealing with during this coronavirus pandemic. And to think someone 102 years later… We are repeating history!
The Center For Disease Control
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the leading national public health institute of the United States. It is a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
Its main goal is to protect public health and safety through the control and prevention of disease, injury, and disability in the US and internationally. The CDC focuses national attention on developing and applying disease control and prevention. It especially focuses its attention on infectious disease, foodborne pathogens, environmental health, occupational safety and health, health promotion, injury prevention, and educational activities designed to improve the health of United States citizens.
The World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. It is part of the UN Sustainable Development Group. The WHO Constitution, which establishes the agency's governing structure and principles, states its main objective as ensuring "the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health." It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with six semi-autonomous regional offices and 150 field offices worldwide.
By Carole Copeland Thomas
Excitement is building in anticipation of the 27th Black History Empowerment Recognition Breakfast on Thursday, March 12, 2020 at the Colonnade Boston Hotel. The featured Keynote Speaker is Shironda White whose financial background and online technological expertise produced one of her latest ventures, CauseEDU. She will empower and inspire the expected sell-out crowd with her message of good news by showcasing the achievement of women entrepreneurs of color.
Shironda White is a social entrepreneur with a passion for higher education and community development. She is currently the Founder of three companies: CauseEDU, an online college financial planning platform; West Douglas Capital, a real estate investment and community development company; and Cocoa & Cupcakes, an allergy-friendly baked goods company. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, her 15-year career spanned financial services, philanthropy, and higher education management, working for organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
the US Department of Health & Human Services, and Harvard University.
Shironda is an alumna of Spelman College and received her MBA in entrepreneurship and social impact from Boston University's Questrom School of Business. She is very active with both of her alma maters and currently serves as a case competition coach and a frequent speaker at Boston University.
Shironda is originally from Oxnard, California, started her career in Atlanta, and moved to Boston in 2010.
Click Here for complete information about purchasing tickets or Tables of Ten.
Sponsorship opportunities are also available.
The Breakfast will be held from 8:30 am to 11:00 am on Thursday, March 12, 2020 at the Colonnade Boston Hotel.
Tickets are $65 per person. Only $50 for members of the Multicultural Symposium Series.
For More Information, Call Carole Copeland Thomas at 508 947-5755.
Martin Luther King Jr. is born on January 15 to the Reverend and Mrs. Martin Luther King Sr. His birthplace was Atlanta, Georgia. At the time, the family had one other child - a daughter. Later, they would have another son.
He graduates from high school at age 15 and begins attending Morehouse College. He was an extremely bright and intelligent man. He skipped over two grades in high school, which allowed him to start attending college when he was 15.
Martin Luther King Jr. graduates from Morehouse College, and goes right on to study at the Crozer Theological Seminary in Atlanta. His father was a Reverend, and although King Jr. had doubts about Christianity early in life, he went on to fully embrace the mission of the religion and how it was connected to his goals.
On February 25 of this year, he was ordained into the Baptist ministry at the age of 19.
He begins attending Boston University for graduate work. He studied systematic theology and received a Doctor of Philosophy.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King were married. They established their residency in Montgomery, Alabama.
He completed his Doctorate degree in Systematic Theology from Boston University.
He joined the Montgomery bus boycott after Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1 for refusing to give up her bus seat.
On December 5 King was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association and he became the official spokesperson for the boycott, which became one of the most prominent events of the civil rights movement.
Martin Luther King Jr. created the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with 60 black ministers from Atlanta. The group's mission was to fight against segregation and racism.
On May 17th he gives a speech to 15,000 people in Washington D.C.
Congress passes the first Civil Rights Act.
He was stabbed in Harlem while signing his newly-published, first book Stride Toward Freedom.
He had been the pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. However during this year, he decided to leave that position so that he could focus on the civil rights movement full time.
He moves back to Atlanta to lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Mr. and Mrs. King traveled to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Jawaharial Nehru to study the nonviolence techniques of Mohandas Gandhi.
He returned with his family to Atlanta and became co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church with his father.
He was arrested during one of the lunch counter sit-ins which occurred in Greensboro, North Carolina. He was supposed to spend four months in jail; however, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were able to get him released from jail.
Martin Luther King Jr. convinces the Interstate Commerce Commission to prohibit segregation on public transportation going between states.
The Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) started their first Freedom Ride in a bus through the southern states.
He is arrested in Albany, Georgia and jailed.
Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in April with Ralph Abernathy in Birmingham Alabama for demonstrating without a permit. He spent eleven days in jail during which he wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail.
The Birmingham campaign becomes a major turning point for the civil rights movement resulting in desegregation of the schools and retail establishments.
In June King led over 125,000 people on the Freedom Walk in Detroit in June.
The March on Washington occurs in August, and he makes the extremely famous I Have a Dream speech to 250,000 people.
King is declared Man of the Year by Time magazine.
King attends the July 2 signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the White House in Washington.
On December 10, at the age of 35, King becomes the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
King is arrested in February while he is demonstrating for voting rights in Selma, Alabama.
Governor George Wallace refuses to grant a permit to the 500 marchers in King's march from Selma to Montgomery designed to show the need for voter rights and to support the Voting Rights Bill which was unsigned. The march continued and over 10,000 started the march with King, joined by another 25,000 in Montgomery.
In January King moves into a Chicago slum tenement in order to bring to light the housing problems that the black community faced.
In June Martin Luther King Jr., along with other individuals, starts the March Against Fear in the south.
The Supreme Court upholds the 1963 Birmingham conviction and King spends four days in the the Birmingham jail.
In November the Poor People's Campaign begins and is targeted at people who were facing poverty.
King announces that the Poor People's Campaign will march on Washington to demand support of the $12 billion Economic Bill of Rights which guaranteed employment, income to those who are unable to work and the end of discrimination. King marches in support of sanitation workers in Memphis. He delivers the I've Been to the Mountaintop speech in Memphis.
On April 4, he is shot while standing on the balcony at his hotel, and later dies. His death is followed by riots in 130 U.S. cities. His funeral was on April 9th and had international attendance.
On November 2, Martin Luther King Day was proclaimed as a federal holiday by President Ronald Reagan.
Martin Luther King Day first observed.
Martin Luther King Day observed nationwide for the first time.
Martin Luther King Jr. memorial dedicated in Washington D.C.
From my home to yours, I wish you rich blessings into the New Year. Here is a special article I created about the history of Watch Night Service in the African American community. The tradition predated the importance of the famous 1862 Watch Night Services and originated with the Moravians in Germany many years earlier. The first Methodist church in America to celebrate Watch Night in the 1700s was St. George United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, the home church of Bishop Richard Allen, co-founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. However, it has become particularly important in the Black Church, with its evolution in the early to mid-1800s. The word evolved from “Freedom’s Eve” to “Watch Night” as the freed and enslaved blacks “watched” the clock strike 12 midnight, turning the course of the Civil War and freeing three million slaves in the states of the rebellion.
Wishing You The Best in 2020!
Carole Copeland Thomas, MBA CDMP, CITM
The History Of Watch Night Services In The Black Church
by Carole Copeland Thomas
With the festivities of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa now on full display, there is still time to reflect on the ritual of my ancestors and many other African Americans, whose forefathers sat around campfires and wood stoves in the twilight of December 31, 1862. There they sang spirituals acapella, prayed, and thanked the Good Lord for what was about to happen the next day. In the North, Abolitionists were jubilant that the “peculiar institution” was finally about to get dismantled one plantation at a time.
The booklet, Walking Tours of Civil War Boston sites this about this historic event:
“On January 1, 1863, large anti-slavery crowds gathered at Boston’s Music Hall and Tremont Temple to await word that President Abraham Lincoln had issued the much-anticipated Emancipation Proclamation (EP). Those present at the Music Hall included Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe, poets Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and John Greenleaf Whittier and essayist, poet and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Also present was Ralph Waldo Emerson, who composed his Boston Hymn to mark the occasion.”
Now… Let’s Look Back...157 Years Ago Tonight...
It was on January 1, 1863, amidst the cannon fire, gunshots, and burnings at the height of the Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln sealed his own fate and signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It begins with the following decree:
Whereas on the 22nd day of September, A.D. 1862, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, towit:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”
That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."
CAROLE' S TRANSLATION:
Effective January 1, 1863, all slaves in the states in rebellion against the Union are free.
Technically that is all that President Lincoln could do at the time. He used his wartime powers as Commander in Chief to liberate the "property" of the states in rebellion of the Union. The act did not free the slaves of the Union or border states (Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, or West Virginia) or any southern state under Union control (like parts of Virginia). It would take the 13th Amendment (that freed all slaves in 1865), the Union Army winning the Civil War (April 9, 1865), and the assassination of President Lincoln (shot on April 14th and died on April 15, 1865) for all of the slaves to be freed. That included the liberation of the slaves in rebellious Texas on June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth Day) and finally the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 18, 1865, giving all black people freedom and permanently abolishing slavery in the US.
So in 1862 on the eve of this great era, the slaves "watched", prayed, and waited. My ancestors, including Bishop Wesley John Gaines of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) (a slave in Georgia freed by the EP) and the other three million slaves, prayed for divine guidance and an empowered Abraham Lincoln to do the right thing. It is as important today as the tradition of black people eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck.
Following the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves were freed in stages, based on where they lived, the willingness of the plantation owner to release them and when Union troops began to control their area.
Black educator and community activist Booker T. Washington as a boy of 9 in Virginia, remembered the day in early 1865:
“As the great day drew nearer, there was more singing in the slave quarters than usual. It was bolder, had more ring, and lasted later into the night. Most of the verses of the plantation songs had some reference to freedom. ... Some man who seemed to be a stranger (a United States officer, I presume) made a little speech and then read a rather long paper—the Emancipation Proclamation, I think. After the reading, we were told that we were all free and could go when and where we pleased. My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks. She explained to us what it all meant, that this was the day for which she had been so long praying, but fearing that she would never live to see.”
The longest holdouts were the slaves in Texas, who were not freed until June 19, 1865, two months after the Civil War ended. That day is now celebrated as Juneteenth Day around the United States.
That is the history of Watch Night in the African American culture.
May you and your family enjoy a spirit-filled New Year throughout 2020. Thank you for ALL of your support you have given to me and my business throughout 2019.
Five international holidays converge onto the scene every December (and early January) to make our schedules hectic, exciting, and pressure-filled. Wrapping gifts while shopping at odd hours of the night either push us into the spirit of happiness OR help us find an escape path until all of the celebrations are over.
Here are related links to five holidays with religious and nonreligious implications. You'll learn some interesting facts and figures that will make you scratch your head in amazement. The marathon includes Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings Day. Learn new stuff and pass it on as the merriment continues throughout the holiday season.
-Carole Copeland Thomas
Links and Resources For The Five Holidays
2 Winter Solstice
Parenting Article Written For Kids
History of the Christmas Tree
5 Three Kings Day
By Carole Copeland Thomas
I did not know her or even recognize her in late September when I sat on the same church pew with her on that fateful day. We were sitting on opposite ends but remained resolute and reflective on the occasion. And we both were featured speakers, paying tributes to a dedicated civil rights icon, whose funeral would last for more than four hours in Atlanta, Georgia.
We were both attending the funeral of one of my oldest and dearest friends on the planet. Both paying tribute to Juanita Jones Abernathy, the widow of Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, the closest associate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My connection to Juanita and that of many others that day were understandable. That included the King children, Bernice and Martin Luther King, III, who sat two pews behind us. It also included Representative John Lewis, the United States Congressman, who was badly beaten as a young student during the 1965 March on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Congressman Lewis sat right in front of me, and we chatted briefly before the funeral started.
We were all predictable attendees, devoted to the Abernathy family and steadfast advocates for civil rights and social justice for all.
It was Peggy Wallace Kennedy whose presence marked a startling change in the annals of American history. The daughter of one of the country’s most vile segregationists invited to speak at the funeral of one of her father’s former arch enemies. Peggy’s father: former Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace.
George Wallace, who died in 1998 and was struck and paralyzed by an assassin’s bullet in 1972, was a champion racist and orchestrator of some of the worst civil rights violations in modern times. The assassination attempt changed his racial ideology, but the damage he had done for years will never be forgotten.
It’s his daughter, Peggy, who is now trying the right the wrongs of his past. And she’s reaching out to the country’s racial justice warriors to prove that she’s genuine, that she cares and that she sees the world differently from her dad.
Her father’s racial hatred was notorious. He was a first-term governor in 1965 when John Lewis, a young student from Troy, Alabama, suffered a fractured skull at the hands of the Alabama state troopers during the Selma March. Governor Wallace’s famous 1963 gubernatorial inaugural speech stated the following:
“In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
So much for one daughter to overcome.
Yet Peggy Wallace Kennedy’s steadfast determination to walk in a different path from her father found her invited to speak at Juanita Abernathy’s funeral. Her remarks were carefully crafted and poignant. Her tributes to Juanita beautifully woven into the tapestry of reconciliation and peace.
During her remarks at the funeral, Peggy said, “As for me…she believed in me…in who I was rather than who I belonged to. She was my friend. Juanita helped changed the landscape of America for the benefit of all. She stood steadfast in the belief that all lives matter.”
Following her five minute tribute, she walked right over to John Lewis, who hugged and embraced her with love and admiration. During his remarks, he said, “Peggy Wallace Kennedy, thank you for bearing witness to the truth.”
For an extended time, she hugged Juanita’s younger daughter, Hollywood actress Donzaleigh Abernathy, signaling the times have changed, and there’s no room for returning to the racial hatred of the past.
Peggy Wallace Davis has written a new memoir, The Broken Road: George Wallace And A Daughter’s Journey To Reconciliation. I certainly plan on reading the book and inviting Peggy on my new podcast that will start in 2020. Perhaps it will give new clues to why her father basked in the pool of hatred as he climbed the political ladder of success in the deep South of the 1960s. Forgiveness can sometimes take generations as the healing process seeps into our soul. My hope is that her mission and her message will cause us all to look deeply inside of ourselves to find new ways to build cross-cultural bridges to our future.
By Carole Copeland Thomas
For some, the holidays are a triumphant time to celebrate the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, and other religious and nonreligious traditions on the season. Gift giving, office parties, and tons of food are earmarked with company bonuses, holiday concerts, and family get-togethers wrapped up in bright shiny packages. And let’s now forget the children, whose excitement and anticipation of Christmas are filled with toys, presents, and at least a one week break from school.
Those are the happy reflections of the holidays that perhaps represent your current state of mind. For others, a different picture unfolds as another season, or a new reminder takes shape of sadness, misery, and loss.
I know both kinds of holidays, including the happiness of my childhood years combined with the first Christmas after losing my teenage son. The happy and the sad times are both graphic reminders of what many people are facing this December.
For those who are struggling to get through the season, here are FIVE ways to cope with the holidays in a proactive and intentional manner. These are proven methods that have helped me in past years and should help those who need an anchor to navigate the season.
1. Think Of December As A Temporary Moment In Time
I am reminded of my dear friend, Joni Spicer, who faced terminal cancer in 2018 and how she navigated through last December. She made up her mind, called all of her friends, and hosted her Annual Christmas Eve Open House. I dropped by early on and was amazed by her courage and confidence to celebrate the temporary. She was thin as a rail but looked elegant and beautiful. Her house was decorated like a Norman Rockwell Christmas card. I understand that countless friends attended her gathering and celebrated the here and now with Joni and her family.
We buried Joni the next month, but what a climactic ending orchestrated with every last ounce of energy she had in her body. It was a temporary moment in time and a way for this courageous woman to not let death define her holiday spirit. Her act of courage will stay with me forever.
Perhaps you can find some ritualistic way to celebrate what you have in a meaningful and spirit-filled manner. Yes, it’s temporary, but it will hopefully move you through a more inviting 2020.
2. Your Loss Is Real, And Your Pain Is Normal
Perhaps there are only a few close friends to whom you can express this emotion. Most people are simply too wrapped up in their own drama to take on yours. Some people don’t care, others want you to “get over it,” and a tiny fraction are gleeful about your misery.
Be careful whose confidence you keep. When you’re in pain, emotionally or physically, express yourself to those who really care. Don’t ignore your feelings, and don’t navigate this month in denial. You’re human, and your sheer resilience should help you gain the strength and hopefulness to move forward in your life.
3. Reflect On The Positive
Our human nature and our protective emotional devices propel us from zero to 500 when events happen to us. You receive a note from your doctor that a second test is needed for precautions only. Your mind immediately goes to a terminal illness.
It's difficult to schedule a meeting with your boss about that raise you’re going to request. Your mind tells you that something is wrong and your job is in jeopardy.
Or a normal business slowdown occurs in December, and you panic with thoughts of your company shutting down.
These are all very real emotions that YOU must manage. Going to the “dark side” is a natural reaction. YOU must manage that reaction by pumping your thoughts with positive ideas, affirmations, and expectations. Do it first thing in the morning, EVERY morning to remind YOU that a positive perspective is more productive than negative stimulators. Thank your doctor for her/his proactive choice that will KEEP you healthy in the days ahead. Understand that your boss has deadlines to meet and has NOT forgotten to schedule a meeting with you. And remind yourself next summer to add on extra marketing activities so that WHEN the December slowdown happens, you’ll be prepared.
It’s a mind shift, designed to redirect your thoughts in a more positive-proactive manner.
4. Add Lighting To Your Home or Office
Depending on where you live in the world, shorter days in December might affect your emotions. That’s a real clinical condition for some, whose emotional state is directly impacted by increased darkness in late afternoons. And there’s an entire historical pagan tradition around December 21st, Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.
To counter the darkness, add additional lighting to your home or office. If you celebrate Christmas, the lights on Christmas trees and other holiday decorations can improve your mood. So think of adding additional lamps and other lighting devices from December through March as mood-picker uppers. Fireplaces are also beneficial. Light and sunshine work wonders on improving your emotional state of being and general outlook on life.
Yes, deep breathing provides a healthy and proactive way to clear your thoughts and center your spirit for another day of adventure. As part of my morning routine after prayers and journaling, I recite a positive affirmation that reminds me to breathe and stay calm during the day. It’s a good way to center yourself while being reminded that your mind and body will be better positioned for whatever life throws at you when you practice deep breathing and staying calm. That’s my morning message to ME as I face all the ups and downs in my business and personal life.
From yoga to health regiments to working out at the gym, deep breathing gives you energy and provides the pathway to stay focused on your goals and objectives. There are countless breathing exercises you can build into your daily regiment to add value to your healthy lifestyle activities.
These FIVE steps are designed to help you pick yourself up when you feel the positive energy draining from your system. Try them and pass them on to others. Learn how to take life one day at a time. Explore ways to manage your emotional and physical conditions so that you see more promising possibilities in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
Determine what you can and cannot CONTROL or CHANGE. Adjust your attitude when circumstances are out of our control. Fortifying the positive aspects of your attitude will help prepare you for more meaningful and beneficial opportunities in your future.
You can cope! You can overcome! You can make it through the dynamic days of December.
Explore Your Future In 2020
The Multicultural Symposium Series Webinar Series features current topics designed to enhance personal development both on and off the job. All you need is a computer and a phone to join each webinar. Open to Members of the Multicultural Symposium Series.
Visit www.mssconnect.com for complete information.'
Want to learn what it's like to own your own business? Or how to expand your business? Pick up a copy of Carole's book today!
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How can YOU practice diversity and multiculturalism where YOU live?? Read Carole's book and find out how to make it happen!!
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.