Thursday, December 30, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas: What Makes the Season So Special

Away in a manger, what child is this. O holy night, silent night. Blah, blah, blah. I love singing Christmas carols, but they've become so common that people miss the point, especially when secular musicians and radio stations conveniently leave out selected verses. I've talked a lot recently about the fabulous things about Christmas, and while that's all wonderful you can't ignore the reason we celebrate - Christ.

Let's face it - if you call yourself a Christian, then there's no other reason to celebrate than the birth of our Savior. Lights, presents, and trees are fun, but if we didn't have those would you still enjoy the season? Sadly I think there are some "Christians" out there who couldn't say yes.

While my husband and I don't have kids now, when we do, we don't plan on bringing Santa Clause into the picture. To focus on Santa during this season is to take the focus off of Christ and put it on someone else. Think about it - how would you feel if, on your birthday, everyone lavished attention on your cousin? Would you feel loved? Appreciated? Special? But year after year we do that exact thing to the God who loves us so much that he sent his son to die for us.

Without Christ, there's no reason to celebrate. Toys and clothes are fun to receive, but they're temporary. Santa isn't real. The food disappears. Without Christ, nothing about Christmas lasts. He is the only reason to celebrate because He is the only thing about Christmas that provides hope, joy, and love for all eternity.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Delta & Cherry Capitol Airport - What's Next?

In case you missed today's TC Ticker (I suspect this will change the details of my January flight itinerary...again):

Delta in TC for Chamber Meeting; Cassens Retiring

Delta in TC for Chamber Meeting; Cassens Retiring
It’s a far cry from “business as usual” at Cherry Capital Airport this week.
Yesterday, airport officials announced that Airport Director Steve Cassens will retire in February after 34 years of service.

Today, Delta Airlines officials are descending on Traverse City for a private meeting at the TC Area Chamber of Commerce with representatives from the TC Convention and Visitors Bureau, airport officials and key local business stakeholders. The total attendees? Sources say no more than 12.

Delta representative Trebor Banstetter declined to comment on the specific reason for the impending meeting except to say, “We don’t want to say much about it publicly beforehand. I would say that we’re always happy to meet with any of the communities we serve if they have concerns or feedback or anything they want to talk to us about.”

Indeed, the Traverse City community has voiced both. This past August, the TC Chamber solicited comments and stories from the public regarding airfares and scheduled flights to and from Traverse City, and how those fares and flights – the former generally considered exorbitant; the latter scant – affected the public’s businesses and travel plans.

The Chamber received nearly 300 responses within one week, many of which stated that driving to DetroitGrand Rapids or other airports often proved more affordable and convenient than flying out of Cherry Capital.

The Chamber compiled the testimonials into a 59-page document and sent it to representatives in Washington D.C. One recipient, Senator Carl Levin, contacted Delta, American and United Airlines.

Donald Ponniah, president and general manager of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, will attend the private meeting. Since taking over at the resort in July, he’s been working to induce change with the airlines who fly into TC, going so far as to hire consultant Tom Rockne, who boasts extensive connections within the airline industry thanks to a 35 year career in the retail travel market.

“It’s costing me money,” Ponniah says of Rockne's employment, “But he has significant airline relationships. I knew if I hired someone like that I could get to the leadership directly.”

Ponniah says he has lost bookings from seven groups – each numbering between 30 and 300 people – in the last three months alone because the groups declined to fly into TC. “The No. 1 concern people have is that its too expensive to travel here,” he says. “No. 2, there’s not enough flights.”

“I lose a lot of business, and it’s a frustration,” he says. “We are one of the largest employers here. If we don’t get enough business … we have to start laying off people. That’s not what we want.”

What does Ponniah want? What everyone else in TC wants, he says: “I just want the airlines to be fair. I know the airline business – they are in the business of making money, just like me. But let’s be fair here. I’m not saying charge me nothing, but let's look at the price point and the load factor, guys. Let's be fair."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Memories: What Matters the Most

I've had so many fabulous Christmases that I couldn't possibly pick a favorite. I remember sneaking downstairs at 5 a.m. to peek at the presents, and falling asleep under the tree to the warm glow of multi-colored twinkle lights. There were sticky cinnamon rolls in the morning, roast beef in the afternoon, and leftovers all night long. I love remembering all of those things.
There is one event, however, that not only stayed with me, but continues to motivate me every Christmas season.

When I was a kid, my parents took my sisters and me to the Ben Franklin in town. My folks let us pick out any toy that we wanted...then they had us give the toy away. I don't remember where we donated the toys, but that doesn't matter. What I do remember is the lesson - it's about giving, no getting.

Every year I see the Salvation Army bell ringers, the Toy for Tots bins, and other local charities and I can't help myself. I just want to buy something for everyone. Granted I don't want to encourage the commercialism of Christmas, but I know that a lot of families struggle just to provide appropriate clothes. I also struggle with the reality of children feeling unloved and unwanted during a season that's all about love.

That's why I sponsored another kid this year, and I'll probably do the same next year. I don't do it so a child can get the latest toy. I do it because I hope that each gift will help that child understand that she is loved, and I pray that with that understanding comes the revelation that it's God who loves and will provide for her.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

How To Start a New Christmas Tradition

I come from a close knit clan of five: two parents and three daughters. None of use married early, so by the time I got hitched, I had spent nearly 30 years celebrating Christmas the same way. I thought I would just include my hubby in my family ways, but for all of the premarital counseling a person receives, no one can really prepare you for blending traditions. Sometimes it doesn't work very well, so it's time to create some new traditions.

Starting a new tradition doesn't happen over night. It can take a couple of years to figure everything out, but you can do it. Here are a few techniques that I recommend for starting your very own traditions:

1. Find something that interests you. If you don't like baking, then don't try to start a cookie exchange. Don't go skiing if you don't like the snow. Pick a passion, and start there.
2. Find something that interests others. If you want to celebrate the holidays alone, then you can skip this part. If you want others to join you, however, then you need to think of them, too.
3. Figure out a way to blend the two interests. Having a bonfire on the ice skating rink obviously won't work, but if you make time for everyones likes, they'll make the time to attend.
4. Personalize it. Sticking with the bonfire theme: yes, they're fun, but you can make it better. Have everyone's favorite roasting food, or prepare a favorite hot beverage. Show people that it's not just about doing something, it's about doing something with them.
5. Be Patient. Doing something one year is a fun time. Doing it again the next year is a repeat performance. By the third year, the tradition is forming. Be willing to stick to it and give your event a chance to catch on.

With a little bit of thoughtfulness and a little bit of planning, anyone can start a new tradition. Have fun!