The Holiday Season is a hard time of year for many people. They experience such feelings as sadness, loneliness, depression, financial worries, etc. When all of that is going on inside it is sometimes hard to feel thankful.
For me, this time of year was extremely difficult for many years. It all started back in 1987 right around Thanksgiving. I gave birth to my daughter on November 27th. On December 2nd of that same year I signed the documents to place my daughter for adoption. I went home to discover that my dog had been put to asleep because cancer had spread throughout her body. Then at the age of 32 I had a stroke on November 26th.
In the Social Work field, the dates of events like I mentioned above are referred to as “anniversaries.” They are sort of triggers that make us remember the sadness, fear, or anger that is associated with that event. Granted over time the intense feelings become muted to a more manageable level, but we still often experience an echo of those feelings around the dates.
Somewhere along the way I decided that I was just going to be semi-miserable every year through the Holiday Season. So, I pasted on my fake smile acting like everything was peachy keen. No one ever knew that beneath that faux smile I was aching on the inside each time I re-lived one of those anniversaries.
It wasn’t until I heard a sermon on having “an attitude of gratitude” that I realized I had been telling myself a terrible lie by buying into the idea that I was going to be semi-miserable each year. I did not have to be semi-miserable! What I needed to do was re-adjust my focus about those so-called anniversaries.
I decided to see if I could find something to be thankful about each one of those dates. When it came to November 27th I decided that I was thankful that the Lord had given me the strength to place my daughter for adoption so that she could have all the opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to offer her back then. For December 2nd I was thankful for the wonderful counselor at Children’s Home Society who sat with me while I signed the adoption papers. And for November 26th I was thankful that I survived the stroke with minimal residual effects and that I went seeking for “something more” after I had it. I soon discovered that that “something more” was actually a Person…Jesus!
Each year, starting around Thanksgiving, I remind myself to be purposeful in having an attitude of gratitude. I figure, if I’m trying to find ways to be thankful I won’t have much time to fall back into the semi-miserable groove! I don’t always do it perfectly. And I sometimes experience a brief twinge of those old feelings, but they leave quickly. I will keep practicing being thankful until I finally don’t even have a twinge at all!
If this is a hard time of year for you I encourage you to come visit the Glennon House so that one of our trained Prayer Ministers can pray for you. Or if you would like to just come in to tell us what you are thankful for during this time of year we always love to hear praise reports!!