I was recently visiting with some staff at Grace Hall when the topic of the upcoming holidays came up. People love Thanksgiving because it is simple and does not present all the stress of Christmas. I asked how we could reduce stress that is typical this time of year.
One person said that last year was difficult personally with financial and health issues that caused her family to sharply reduce Christmas preparations. Gratitude, she added, was the focus of their gathering and the days leading up to it. They were grateful that one person had found a job after a long search and that another’s cancer was in remission. She noted that this awareness of gratitude brought her peace while she was feeling the pressure to buy gifts, attend another party or make another appetizer.
Naming the stress, fear or anxiety triggered by the season serves as an antidote, according to another person. He stated that the power the season brings from outside factors was lowered when you could name what the stress is. I would add that last year I used Father Ted Hesburgh’s simple prayer when I sensed stress in my own life: “Come, Holy Spirit.” It gave me peace and calm in the face of anxiety. You might also pray over Isaiah 43:4 which reminds us, “You are precious to me, you are mine.” Living in the moment is all we have and by prayer I felt more present and less concerned about the future or the past. Let’s pray for one another. That is an excellent, precious gift.