{Pronounced yoo-khar-is-teh’-o is a verb meaning to give thanks specifically to God.} An article on thankfulness seemed appropriate since ’tis the season’ is upon us. I understand why Thanksgiving and Christmas create an elevation of joy in the air. These are the times we intentionally lavish in thankfulness and giving. This is wonderful the world needs more than a holiday or two for things like this. I cannot help but find it so very ironic that during the time where joy is basically an airborne virus, I struggle to find it. Not that I’m an Ebenezer, Christmas is by far my favorite holiday, I feel more like Rudolph when he couldn’t play the reindeer games.

I think the root of the problem is the pattern in which I plan the holidays in my head. I inevitably have a yearning to do something glandular for the end of November as well as the end of December which, not so coincidentally, is the worst time to travel so if you’re going to do it, things must be planned well in advance. Leading me to the second problem. No one in my traveling entourage aka my family can ever peacefully agree on a destination therefore, any lofty idea of a vacation I manage to concoct becomes a stay-cation.

Then I start to think perhaps turkey day won’t turn out too dull and the big plans can be pushed to next month. That’s alright I can cope with that. I can exercise my self-control through a stoic gathering of extended relatives that I don’t sincerely keep in touch with. I can suffer through small talk over dinner because although it’s not my favorite it’s not awful. I can wait for excitement around Christmas and the day after that is my birthday, and I think quite possibly, maybe, something fun might occur on New Year’s.

Somehow every year I remain hopeful for a refreshing kind of celebration but it never truly plays out that way. Realistically I will be here in the cold and snow with my family who I do love dearly but nothing exciting will be going on. Then for the December days it’ll be colder and snowier and I’ll be stressing over the fact that I care about too many people, which doesn’t sound like a problem but it really is when you overtly enjoy expressing your appreciation for somebody through gift giving. Should I make it through the massive stress of planning, ordering, and shopping to the actual day of Christmas and still be sane, hopefully I’ll take a breath and have a moment of rejoicing when I remember Christmas is really about it being Jesus’ birthday and I entirely adore that fact.

Immediately following the greatest day is my birthday, something I wouldn’t call great just because of the time line it falls on. I’m sure I’ll do something to acknowledge my 22nd year but it’s doubtful that I’ll be with friends because everyone has their own family engagements. Now that I’ve spelled out the personal pitfalls of my holidays at the risk of sounding pitiful, the question is, knowing the grim reality I’m dreading already, how should I set my mind?

How can I dig for the holiday joy that seems to fall into the laps of everyone else? I don’t know, but here’s what I do know. Joy isn’t something I need to seek. I have Christ so as a result joy is in me. So the solution to my frustrations is not fulfilling something I want to feel but displaying the joy I posses no matter where I find myself between now and the New Year. The actual issue is not that ‘nothing happens’ over the holidays, it’s that I have selfish expectations. I’m thinking what about me? When I should be thinking it is not about me. I’ll need to practice the thought. Much rehearsal is necessary for me during this time of year to maintain a selfless state because it is way to easy for me to be all about me. Just because it’s my birthday doesn’t mean the world stops turning, I am not entitled to anything. It is not about me. It is better to give then receive, in this case I need to give up myself and be there for others. I think I can do that, I can’t promise but I can try.

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