You may be facing Thanksgiving with mixed feelings — many of us do; if so, Father Jim Martin has some tips for getting through Thanksgiving when it is filled with turkeys:
Everyone from your know-it-all neighbor to your more-processed-than-you-are therapist to your holier-than-thou pastor will tell you that the holidays can be stressful times.
Even though you roll your eyes after hearing this for the umpteenth time, you know they’re right. Why? Oh, for about a billion reasons: the need to travel long distances frays nerves; the increasing pressure to buy, buy, buy more gifts strains wallets; simmering family conflicts that explode over the slightest slight lend an undertone of discord to gatherings; blotto coworkers bellowing insults at boozy parties means a tense office environment the next day; and frustrated expectations that Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah will be “just like it was when I was growing up” mean that many find the holidays a big fat letdown.
Need I go on?
I didn’t think so.
While the holidays—loosely defined as the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day—are filled with many graces, they can be stressful. So how can you survive them?
With some humor. Specifically, by laughing at three things:
Martin has just published a new book, Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life and I loved it; it is a kind of funny but thoughtful instruction manual on how to lighten up, in order to more completely absorb this prayer:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
As Saint Teresa of Avila, who composed that prayer understood, having a sense of humor helps us get there. I personally think the book is a terrific Christmas gift idea. That, along with Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism and Lino Rulli’s Sinner are going to be big on my gift-giving list, this year!
Martin’s book also informed my First Things column, this week, but in a surprising way:
In Martin’s book, he recounts Nathaniel in the Gospel of John, who is encouraged by his friends to come meet the one “about whom Moses and the prophets wrote, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
Nathaniel snarks, “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
The niceniks would be all over that. What a mean thing to say about someone he didn’t even know! What a hurtful remark to the people who live in Nazareth!
Depending on one’s leanings, that uncharitable snob, Nathaniel, was either an elitist one percenter or an aloof ninety-nine percenter, but either way, he wasn’t nice!
Some very interesting comments accompanying that piece, including a poignant one from a college professor.
UPDATE I: The Crescat has some very different tips for surviving Thanksgiving
UPDATE II: Over at Catholicmom, More than 100 Reasons to be Thankful, even in Hard Times