- 2013 - December - 9th -

Enjoy the ‘present’ of holiday season

By Braxton Gillam, President of The Jacksonville Bar Association

Happy holidays!

For all of the excitement around the holidays, it has been a pretty sad week around my house. Last week our youngest child, Grady, with a sheepish grin on his face, asked his mother if Santa was real.

Thankfully, the question did not come to me. Not knowing exactly how to respond, my wife fell back on the Socratic Method and asked my son what he thought.

After a few minutes of back and forth, he announced that he figured out that Santa was not real because there was no way anyone could visit all the homes in the world in one night. We are sure he is a genius.

On a lark, Christy then asked Grady if our middle child, Wiley, also knew that Santa was fiction. He admitted that he did not know, but agreed to "do some snooping." Turns out, not surprisingly, Wiley had also figured it out, but was "playing along" because of his little brother. What a good boy!

With the mystery of Santa uncovered, however, other traditions quickly fell prey to our children. The elf on the shelf lost his protection. He suddenly became much more "touchable" by my children. In fact, my wife found him propped up against the family cat after school that day. Oh the ignominy …

While the kids seem no worse for the wear, my wife and I have experienced a shared sense of loss. It is not to say the holiday season is about Santa, because it is not. It is about traditions, no matter what your religion; some ancient, some new.

It is about spending time with family and hopefully enjoying some time away from the stress of work. However, inevitably we end up reflecting on times past, and ultimately note the rapid advances in the passage of time. The challenge is not to get lost in what has been lost or what used to be. Instead, celebrate life, family and the now.

As I reflect on this issue, I am reminded of something from one of my kids' favorite movies, Kung Fu Panda. When instructing Po, the panda, Master Oogway, the turtle, chastises Po for worrying and states: "You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why they call it the present."

It amazes me how much we can learn from the simple lessons found in our children's stories. Remember your traditions this holiday season, reminisce on the past, but do not dwell on it. Enjoy this holiday season with your family and friends for that is the greatest present anyone can ever receive.

With that in mind, I look forward to seeing you all at The JBA's annual Christmas party Thursday at 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Wells Fargo Center.

In the spirit of giving this holiday season, the Bar will be collecting donations for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid at this event. The suggested donation to JALA is $20. Please join me in supporting this worthy cause in our community at this special time of the year.

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