Next week is Thanksgiving Day. Many of us will gather around a table with family and friends to celebrate and be thankful. The table will be filled with traditional holiday food of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, green beans and whatever your particular tradition adds to the festivities of the holiday.
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. At least for me. I know some begin with Halloween, but for me it is Thanksgiving. Holidays can be the best of times and the worst of times.
The best of times because it provides a day to set aside our normal work day activities to gather with those we love and share a day of celebration. Food, games, puzzles, football, and parades are often hallmark activities of these days. And then of course, preparation for Black Friday shopping if you are into that sort of thing.
The worst of times because it stands as a reminder of all that has gone wrong in our families and with our friends. Holidays are some of the loneliest times of the year for many people. Obligatory visits with people we no longer know or understand, strained conversation around a table filled with food no one tastes — or worse yet, sitting alone –all these are hallmark activities for some on these days.
I have experienced both extremes of the holiday gamut, but the bad experiences seem to stand out to me.
The first year my husband and I were married we were entirely alone for the Christmas holiday. His parents had gone away and my parents lived 2000 miles away. We were alone. I remember we put a puzzle together while I roasted Cornish game hens. The butter ran over and filled the house with smoke. A friend came to play games. He said it was awful in the house. He took pity on us. We went to his parent’s home to play games.
A few years ago, I planned to go to Montana just before Christmas to be with my mom after a major surgery. I was leaving on December 16 and on December 15 we were involved in a T-bone collision that totaled our van. I flew to Montana the next day and spent a week with my mom. Every day I developed another area of stiffness. I was miserable. Flying home on the 23rd, I arrived just in time for what should be great holiday celebrations. I hadn’t had time to shop for a Christmas dinner, we needed to get another vehicle, I was exhausted. We had sausage and sauerkraut for Christmas dinner. I hated it. That isn’t what you are supposed to have for Christmas dinner. It so overshadows that year’s holiday that I have a hard time remembering how much fun we had sledding in the fresh snow on Christmas Eve or going to our first ever midnight Christmas Eve service.
We have had many more great holidays than bad, but to be honest, the holidays have been rough for me. For many years I struggled with depression that began after Thanksgiving and continued through the month of December. I missed making cookies and candy with my mom and sisters. I missed going to Mom and Dad’s on Christmas Eve. I missed my family.
One year I realized that I was cheating my husband and children out of wonderful memories by focusing on what I was missing. I knew I had to change my thinking. Here are a few of my holiday survival tips. I hope they are helpful to you in someway.
Paul said in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Holidays can be the best of times or the worst of times. May your holidays be filled with joy overflowing and peace beyond understanding. Let them serve you; you don’t have to serve the holiday.
Until next time…
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.