How to LAST and Survive the Holidays
The day before Thanksgiving an elderly man in Phoenix called his son in New York and said to him, “I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are getting a divorce; 45 years of misery is enough. We’re sick of each other, and so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her.”
Frantic, the son called his sister, who exploded on the phone. “O no, they are not getting divorced,” “I’ll take care of this.” She called Phoenix immediately, and said to her father. “You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?”
The man hung up his phone and turned to his wife. “Okay, honey. The kids are coming for Thanksgiving and paying for their flights.”1
The holidays are upon us. They are a time of blessing, but they can be a stressful time as well.
As a Christian, we have to maintain our witness throughout the time. Many of us will spend time with family and friends. We may have people we enjoy seeing and we may encounter people who we don’t know what to expect. There will be company Christmas parties, family reunions at Thanksgiving.
FOUR TIPS TO LAST (SURVIVE) THE HOLIDAY SEASON
1. Listen to God
“Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2, CSB)
When people think of prayer during the holidays, they consider that they should pray before the meal. But after that, the people can eat, talk to one another, watch the parades on television. God is relegated to just the tradition of the holidays, but He does not become a part of the holidays.
Yet, to survive the holiday season, I need God’s help. I need to listen to Him.
2. Accept the opportunity to share Jesus
“At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains,” (Colossians 4:3, CSB)
What does Paul’s imprisonment, and his words to the Colossian church have to do with the circumstances you will encounter during the holiday season?
You are on mission, even during the holidays. Just as Paul spoke about Jesus, you get the chance to share Jesus during the holiday season. When the door opens to share your faith, accept it. Don’t decline. Don’t deny. Don’t avoid. Seize the opportunity.
A man charged with stealing a turkey appeared in court. He told the judge that his action was an answer to prayer. When the judge asked him to explain, the man said: “Well, judge, it was the night before Thanksgiving, and I didn’t have a turkey. I prayed for the Lord to send me one. At midnight I still had no turkey. So then I prayed for the Lord to send me after a turkey. He did!”
Poor theology, to be sure. But the story does suggest that we are not to just sit and wait for opportunities to come. Sometimes we have to go out and make them.2
If the opportunity is during the Thanksgiving holiday, share to whom you are thankful. If the opportunity is during the Christmas holiday, share about why you celebrate Christmas.
3. Savor the experience
“Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.” (Colossians 4:5, CSB)
Like the outsiders, there are people whom I will meet during the holidays whom I may not meet again for some time. I need to make the most of the time.
The phrase “redeeming the time” is a commercial term and means to “buy up.” It’s the picture of finding something on sale and buying all you can afford because the price is so good. That’s what this verse is saying: when God gives you an opportunity to share, take it! Don’t pass it up!3
4. Think before you speak
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6, CSB)Our experiences are defined by the words we say with others. As a Christian, when we enter the holiday season, for some it is a time of conflict and stress. For others, it is a happy time. Still, for others, it is a sad time. My words can impact other people in positive and negative ways.
At the same time, I need to away about how I react to the holiday season. When people talk to me, some people may be negative. How do I handle their words? How do I “answer them?”
The words “Thank” and “Think” hail from the same root, reminding us that thanksgiving comes from thinking about our blessings.4
Think before you speak. Think about how you should answer someone. Thanksgiving can be a great time to practice this skill. Because when you think before you speak, then you will “think to thank.”
Viennese psychologist Viktor Frankl, who endured the horrors of the Nazi death camps, later wrote that the Nazis took everything from him—his property and possessions, his family and friends, his future and hope, and even the very clothes on his back. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he said: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” Thankfulness is the opposite of almost every negative attitude you can think of. What’s the opposite of complaining and grumbling? Thanksgiving. What’s the opposite of discouragement and depression? Thanksgiving. What’s the opposite of anger and anxiety? Thanksgiving.5
The famous stress researcher Hans Seyle claims that two attitudes more than any other influence the quality of everyday life, and on these two emotions “depend our peace of mind, our feelings of security or insecurity, of fulfillment or frustration, in short, the extent to which we can make a success of life.” The most destructive emotion is revenge. But in contrast, “among all the emotions, there is one which more than any other, accounts for the absence or presence of stress in human relations: that is the feeling of gratitude.”6
Thanksgiving should be a time of wonderful celebration. You can survive and last through the holidays if you continue to trust in Christ this Thanksgiving season.
1 Bill Dudley, “Day Before Thanksgiving Divorce,” Internet, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/bill.dudley.50/posts/10215300339800924, accessed on 13 November 2018.
2 Herschel H. Hobbs, My Favorite Illustrations (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1990), 196.
3 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook, 2006 Edition. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 279.
4 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 736.
5 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Annual Preacher’s Sourcebook, 2007 Edition. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007), 362.
6 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 735.