What I Want For Christmas

I think I can say without hesitation that what most people want for Christmas is indeed relevant to what they consider to be of utmost importance to them at the time. By now we know that wishes for “my two front teeth” rather than a toy had to have been of paramount importance to a child who might have been constantly subjected to ridicule, if not bullying – not just by his or her peers, but by adults who might have unwittingly done so by simply commenting on the missing teeth.

It is with this in mind that I take to the keyboard to ask for a rare, most expensive, and elusive gift this Christmas. Someone must be asking by now why would I want to be so demanding, so unreasonable, so unrealistic at a time when most people accept gifts with as much gratitude as they can muster. To clear the air, let me tackle this by saying; as a practicing Christian, I believe that there is no other model of gift-giving that tops the gift of Jesus to the world. I say this with the hope that all other spiritually-minded readers would insert the name of one who in their respective faith-based belief, corresponds to the role Jesus was born to play in this world.

Why?
I can already hear the following questions: “Are Christians not supposed to be humble, strive for righteousness, be considerate and Christlike in their dealings with their fellow men and women?” I would say “yes…and more” to that. “Why then would you be so inconsiderate and demanding?”

I am glad you asked
As I stated above, expressed desire is borne out of a place of great need and when it comes to what it is that I want for Christmas 2018, it is no different. Even though my expectation goes way beyond the beautifully-wrapped gifts that are under the Christmas tree, it is my hope that the benefits of this demanding Christmas gift will flow to the four corners of the earth, with Nassau County, Long Island being the starting point.

If you are planning on giving anyone including me, a Christmas gift, please consider the following package that keeps on giving…way after Christmas.

The gift of love that is kind, gentle, thoughtful, and does not keep scores.

The gift of sensitivity that is innate in all human beings who care to use it.

The gift of kindness that can be so readily consumed when dished out to us with no expectations of reciprocity.

The gift of understanding before we choose to be judgemental of others – a valuable “know before you go” concept;

The gift of acceptance and tolerance of all God’s children – regardless of how they sound, what side of the track they are from, or what cultural attires they put on.

The gift of self-fulfillment that comes with resisting the temptation to use social media as a tool to emotionally, and subliminally bully and reject people we erroneously regard as our rivals.

The gift of a mindset to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.”

What is so good about this Christmas gift is that it is not designed to go under a Christmas tree. The contents are most accessible, and once delivered to their destination – our respective minds – they release a consciousness that gives us the ability to share the same with everyone we encounter in a way that makes the world a better place.

This gift is also one that is neither unobtainable by the giver, nor likely to be rejected by the receiver. Why then are our homes, communities, the nation, and the world seemingly in such a turmoil? I beseech each reader to do their very best to delicately handle the challenges thrown at them by people they know, and in some cases, people they love.

Surely, you catch my drift by now.

Please stay in touch and tell me how your gift is manifesting itself in your life and that of the people around you.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!

Making the World a Smaller Place: Embracing Multi-Culturalism Through Art & Fashion

My quest to contribute to the making of the world a smaller place took me to Bellport High School last week. It was a pleasure to meet and interact with a mix of multi-ethnic students with the express purpose of assisting them in identifying and celebrating their respective cultural heritage and family traditions in preparation for the designing and creation of their own unique Coat of Many CulturesTM  (This project is funded by a grant from South Country Education Foundation to the school)

There were students who spoke with a great sense of confidence, others who, even though they did not say it, would have preferred to introduce themselves in terms of a subculture they had created or acquired that they were obviously comfortable with. Others appeared to be disconnected from their cultural background because “they were born here” and had not been exposed to “anything” “cultural. Whatever the case may be, I stay committed to my role in the lives of these students as we work diligently toward designing a coat that will not only speak to their identity for years to come, but will take them on a journey of self-empowerment and appreciation for their cultural heritage.

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(Madona Cole-Lacy with Art Students at Bellport High School – Easing Into the Creative Process Through Engagement)

As I anticipate an unpredictable yet successful execution of these series of workshops which I facilitate in Long Island and beyond, I want to highlight a few points that I believe society can bear in mind as they nurture and empower their children particularly in times like these when teachers are reporting bully related incidents that are targeted at children who may not necessarily represent the race and cultural background of those who torment them.

1. If we instill a strong sense of belonging in our children, there will be no need to worry about them being victimized by others. There are no “others” in an all-inclusive world where people work together for the common good of humanity.

2. It is important to maintain family traditions that reinforce cultural values.

3.  Parents should do an ancestry search, and share information about family heritage with their children.

4.  We should research and/or review the history of our cultural/ethnic/racial/religious group, and hold family discussions regarding this background and how it currently impacts each family member.

5.  Promote social studies and history education in schools that is fully inclusive of all ethnic, racial, religious and cultural groups.  This should emphasize their values and contributions to humanity.

We can’t know where we’re going until we know who we are and where we as people have been or been through.

Learn more about my art-related personal development and social/cultural enrichment workshops tailored to schools and community organizations here.