816 Opinion

Give thanks, and give your hearts and minds some peace and respite

Updated: 2013-11-27T04:47:38Z

By EMILY PARNELL

Special to The Star

Woooh, doggie, it’s that time again. The holidays are here.

I’ve had plenty of warning. I saw the first hint of Christmas in the stores when I was shopping for back-to-school supplies back in JULY. No joke. And I’m not one of those who cry “Bah Humbug” any month except December. I may squint and twist my mouth to the side in wonder at commercialization of Christmas in July, but I won’t go on a bitter tirade about it.

Plus, I need as much time as possible to prepare. Being a parent during the holidays provided me with a rude awakening. Holiday meals are colossal reminders of how big of a mess it takes to cook. My wallet always feels a bit too light in November and December. I feel like Elasti-Woman as branches of the family jockey for primo holiday dinner dates and times, sometimes scheduling meals back to back to back. And I’m disappointed, year after year, by my own procrastination on, if not everything, at least some key things, like wrapping packages, or buying that one last, special gift. Add to it all the Advent calendars, the Elf on the Shelf (Mama Mia, don’t get me started on that) and making sure Santa gets his request list on time, and I don’t know about you, but I tend to get a little anxious.

As happy as I am to do these things, and as much as I want things to be just right for my families, I never manage to plan my time to be able to do things at a comfortable pace. There’s always more I want to do than what I can feasibly accomplish. It’s always hurry, hurry, hurry and hope it all gets done.

I’m reminded of a Bible verse, and while Thanksgiving isn’t a biblical holiday, it feels like an appropriate verse for the holiday kickoff.

Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

Most people I know are grateful for all they have. We’re reminded by holiday charity drives and news stories of just how lucky we are. But most people have some worries. From health issues to bed bugs to car woes to concerns about our children, everyone has some sort of anxiety in their lives. Chances are, it will likely be compounded over the next few weeks.

What I love most about this verse is that it acknowledges that we have valid concerns, and it doesn’t promise they’ll all be swept away. What it promises, though, is peace. In simple terms, it states that being thankful is the remedy for anxiety. Being thankful doesn’t get things done — how much do most people actually accomplish on Turkey Day? But it lubricates the rough spots, and provides a much needed moment of emotional respite each time we reflect — and give thanks.

May you and your family find oodles to be thankful for and find much peace this holiday season.

Freelancer Emily Parnell writes for Diversions each week.

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