Issue No. 75
A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.
Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides the following products: dental, vision, basic life and accidental death & dismemberment, supplemental life and AD&D, dependent life and AD&D, retiree life, long-term disability, short-term disability, and Medicare supplement
for eligible Church of the Brethren employees
Dental, vision, retiree life, and Medicare supplement coverage may also be available for eligible retired Church of the Brethren employees.
For eligibility information, call Connie Sandman at 800-746-1505, ext. 366, or contact your human resources representative.
Medical and ancillary plans (named above) may be available to Brethren-affiliated employer groups.
Long-Term Care Insurance is available for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities.
1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120
December is upon us and we are in the holiday season again. However you may feel about it -- whether you are thrilled and delighted as Christmastime draws near, or if you are overwhelmed with the lights, music, and Black Friday sales, you still have to admit that this time of year traditionally marks a wonderful reason for celebration.
So in the pages that follow we have taken a look at what celebration looks like, what we might do to strengthen our ability to celebrate, and specifically, what we might do to celebrate Christmas. There is also a whimsical essay on what Christmas might be like if everything were perfect. Further, there is a link to some fun Christmas recipes you can use to celebrate your Christmas events. We have also included a fun "Name that Carol" word puzzle for you to tackle.
May the 2016 holiday season lift your spirits, enrich you, and fill you with comfort and joy. We at Brethren Insurance Services wish you a very Merry Christmas.
"Glad tiding we bring, to you and your kin. Glad tidings for Christmas and a happy New Year!"
|The perfect Christmas
Christmas is right around the corner. How are you feeling about it this year? Are you feeling harried? Are you burdened by extra preparations? Are you wondering if you'll survive Christmas?
Suppose instead of "surviving" Christmas, every one thrived on it. What would that look like? Just imagine all the things that would make Christmas perfect if everyone's opinions and input were considered ...
For some, there would have to be fireplaces. Ever since Dickens, fireplaces have been essential. Greeting card pictures attest to this. There's the old tradition of the Yule log. Without fireplaces where would we hang stockings? And how would Santa get in? Yes, fireplaces are an important part of Christmas.
For others, there would have to be decorated trees -- and scented candles, preferably red (how about bayberry?), and big wreaths with red ribbons, holly, mistletoe, and lots of pine boughs. And greens! Christmas must also be green.
Christmas food is important to many people. And not just any food, but some sort of special feast, like turkey or roast goose. Christmas requires bird -- meat that has been in flight -- for the elevated, airy moods of the season.
Some have a tradition of baking Christmas cookies shaped like stars and reindeer, and angels and bells too. There have to be lots of them, and homemade candy and of course, a fruitcake.
There are also many traditional Christmas drinks. Not your ordinary coffee or tea, but some sort of hot punch with sugar and citrus, or hot, spiced cider.
Many perfect Christmas memories are associated with children -- enchanted creatures who wake you up at 6 a.m. with sparkling eyes and warm kisses to compensate for lost sleep.
And Christmas also calls for "Christmas spirit." Everyone knows it when they see it -- laughter and parties and candlelight services and church bells and ruddy-faced carolers, and Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life."
Christmas is also about generosity and gifts piled under the tree. Some can be wrapped in bright colors with yards of fancy ribbon. Other gifts are given from the heart -- helping a neighbor or donating to the Salvation Army kettle.
For many, the perfect Christmas involves shopping. And the shopping is fun and sensible with cheerful clerks, short lines, full shelves, good prices, and feet that don't hurt.
And of course, in
the perfect Christmas everyone has enough time, and no one is rushed, beca
use Christmas is about harmony, where troubles are forgotten and wrongs are for
given. Christmas includes justice and peace. There is no place for discord.
No one is alone -- everyone is welcome. Rich share with poor. No one starves. No one is homeless. Everyone is taken in. Everyone is warm.
And while all of these things make for a fun or traditional season, the perfect Christmas was actually the birth of Jesus -- a story that fills us with faith and hope.
There is something essential and very human about celebration. It can be found in unexpected places and times. The holiday season is a good time to think about this. For many Americans, Christmas is the biggest and most drawn-out time of celebration in the calendar. It starts with Thanksgiving, moves through the long build-up to Christmas Day, and ends with New Year's Day. So what does the holiday season teach us about celebration?
Celebration is when everyday reality is suspended, and you allow the joy of something special, different, and good to fill you. You might shout. You might sing and dance. Or you might be filled with quiet happiness. You might give a gift. You might make a speech or offer a testimonial or congratulations. You might gather family and friends. You might eat a big meal together. You might take in the physical beauty of color and sound and sight. You might reflect on a deep inner sense of satisfaction. Or you might rush to someone you love, and share your delight with them.
Almost always, celebration interrupts normal activity and lifts us above that activity. Days of celebration are called holidays, which is derived from the Old English "holy days." These are days that you are lifted above the ordinary into something special, something a bit more sacred, something that might even partake of the "holy."
So it's not hard to see why celebration is essential to all holidays and especially to the Christmas season, where it often finds its most profound expression. It's as though on that first Christmas the whole cosmos turned toward Bethlehem and paused to celebrate the star, the wise men, the shepherds, the angels, even the earth itself. The carol tells us, "Joy to the world ... And heaven and nature sing ... let men their songs employ ... while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy."
At the heart of Christmas joy is release and reconciliation. The hope of the people was to be lifted above the everyday pain and struggle, to be lifted up into something better than the daily grind. Another carol proclaims, "No more let sin and sorrows grow." "Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled. Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies."
For most of us the Christmas celebration lasts only for a day or two, or maybe at most it is stretched out through the prolonged holiday season, but eventually the daily routine returns. Is it possible that the celebration and the daily routine are not separate, that celebration really can and does run through the whole cosmos, that it is always present just under our everyday reality?
There is the old saying that we should celebrate Christmas every day. That's probably not realistic, but it's worth thinking about, isn't it? Here are 10 ways you might help celebration rise up in your daily reality:
- Pay attention to anything good, even the smallest thing.
- Make time to get together with family and friends.
- Intentionally renew a relationship that has gone stale or cold.
- Surprise someone with a gift.
- Lift your eyes from your work and just look around, even if you're only in your office cubicle. See what's around you.
- As you walk in the street or your house or your office, notice small things of beauty - a bird, a vase, a tree, a child, a coworker, flowers, a painting or photograph, even the cover of a book.
- Donate to someone or something.
- Pause to watch the sunset or sunrise.
- Start your day with something or someone you love - a quiet cup of coffee, a moment with a family member.
- When you feel joy, show it.
The medieval monk Brother Lawrence set out in the 17th century to "practice the presence of God." He wanted to be present to God in every moment of every day. It took him 10 years of effort until he achieved this constant sense of presence. And he was a simple dishwasher. He did not have the complex life of relationships and responsibilities most of us have.
The underlying spirit of joy that runs behind the everydayness of our lives is like the presence of God was for Brother Lawrence. In fact, some might say it is an expression of God's holy spirit. If this is true, the holidays are truly "holy days."
So is it possible to have a holiday every day? If Brother Lawrence's experience can be trusted, the answer is yes. May the joys of Christmas remind us that resounding joy may be more possible than we realize.
|Keeping celebration alive
Good health and a good attitude can keep you in touch with the celebratory spirit during all the moments of the holiday season. Here are some things to do:
- If you are traveling by plane or train, do your booking early.
- Allow plenty of time, especially if you're flying.
- Travel light.
- Bring books and digital content for the kids.
- Remember that other travelers are stressed too.
- Plan ahead, organize.
- Do your shopping in small specialty shops and neighborhood shopping districts.
- Stop for cocoa or tea or coffee.
- It you have to shop in the malls, take time to look around at the lavish, sometimes over-the-top decorations and appreciate the color and spectacle.
- Don't overeat.
- Don't decide to diet - not during the holidays.
- Get enough sleep.
- Take walks.
- If it's cold, be sure you bundle up when you go outside so you are comfortable in the cold.
- Don't prepare such elaborate meals that you exhaust yourself.
- Get some exercise so you are not just sitting around stuffed and worn out.
- Show restraint at Christmas buffets.
- Share the work.
- Don't burden yourself with impossible New Year's resolutions.
- Be forgiving of yourself and your family members if things become stressful, as they often can when family gets together. Remember if you are anxious and frustrated, others probably are too.
- Lower your expectations. Sometimes the best things happen when you are not looking for them. Don't load the holidays with too much anticipation.
- Say no if necessary.
- Know your financial resources. Don't overspend on gifts and food and entertainment and decorations. Don't go into holiday debt.
- Invite a family member to bake Christmas cookies with you.
- Enjoy decorating. Do it for pleasure, not to impress.
- Relish the greenery.
- Enjoy Christmas flames. Keep your fireplace going if you have one.
- Be lavish with candles. You can never have too much candlelight.
- Give thoughtful presents. Match gifts to the recipient. Take pleasure in doing this.
- Make plenty of time for the gift-opening. Have snacks and hot drinks ready.
- Find and go to a Christmas Eve candle-lighting service.
- Go to the planetarium for the Christmas Star presentation.
- Attend a staging of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.
- Drive through the neighborhoods and look at the Christmas lights.
- Gather family and friends to sing Christmas carols.
- Gather family and friends to watch favorite Christmas movies.
- Give yourself time to meditate and to pray.
- Late at night when the family is all in bed and snow is falling softly outside your window, sit in your living room with only the tree lights and candles and fireplace burning (if you have one). Let your spirit rest. Be still and think of the good things in your life, and then let your mind be quiet until it is filled with Christmas silence.
We hope you are enjoying our new addition to
-- monthly BRAIN PUZZLES -- just for fun!
Name that Christmas carol
1. Bleached Yule
2. Castaneous-colored Seed Vesicated in a Conflagration
3. Singular Yearning for the Twin Anterior Incisors
4. Righteous Darkness
5. Arrival Time2400 hrs - WeatherCloudless
6. Loyal Followers Advance
7. Far Off in a Feeder
8. Array the Corridor
9. Bantam Male Percussionist
10. Monarchial Triad
11. Nocturnal Noiselessness
12. Jehovah Deactivate Blithe Chevaliers
13. Red Man En Route to Borough
14. Frozen Precipitation Commence
15. Proceed and Enlighten on the Pinnacle
16. The Quadruped with the Vermillion Probiscis
17. Query Regarding Identity of Descendant
18. Delight for this Planet
19. Give Attention to the Melodious Celestial Beings
20. The Dozen Festive 24 Hour Intervals
| Long-Term Care Insurance
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance
Eligibility for long-term care insurance benefits is determined by the inability to meet at least two of these six activities of daily living -- bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, continence, or transferring. Cognitive impairment can also trigger benefits.
It's difficult to think about the fact that a debilitating condition or a disabling injury might leave you unable to care for yourself, or that when you reach your twilight years, the time will come when you will need some extra care. Long-term care insurance makes sure that you will get the care you need. It assures that the cost of your custodial care will not eat up your savings. Finally, and this is one of the best things about LTCI, it can help protect your children and other relatives from having to use their resources to care for you.
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance for all members and employees of the Church of the Brethren and their family and friends; and also for employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities and their families and friends.
If you are interested in obtaining this coverage, contact Brethren Insurance Services at
or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal or
to request more information.