Thursday, November 28, 2019

                   Blog#93:  A Thankful Attitude Can Reduce Holiday Stress

There are many reasons why people feel stressed during the winter holidays.  Busy schedules, tight budgets, tense personal relations, food overload, and traveling or receiving guests are just some of the issues.  However, the end of year holidays can give us inspiration and support inner calm and happiness even in the face of challenging situations. 

Let’s start with All Hallows Eve, All Souls Day, the Day of the Dead and similar holidays. From October 31st to November 2nd, people of diverse countries, religions and cultures renew their connection to deceased family and friends with special foods, decorations, costumes, altars, and other celebrations and rituals.  The living receive guidance from the dead and show appreciation and respect for friends and relatives who have crossed over.  The living celebrate the lives of the deceased and also give thanks for their own ongoing lives.  Death is not seen as a tragic ending or loss, but rather as transition, transformation and continuance for which to be thankful. 

Following this holiday, Thanksgiving helps remind us how essential the earth, plants, animals, and other people are for our survival.  Thanksgiving Day and similar holidays are celebrated on varying dates and places throughout the world, including the U.S., Canada, some Caribbean islands, Liberia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Japan.  A common theme is giving thanks for the harvest that will sustain celebrants for another year. Thanksgiving dinners often provide massive quantities of food.  Centuries ago, there was likely a good reason for these large meals.  Then, food often was scarce and people could not be sure how much nourishment they would be able to obtain between autumn harvest and the following spring, when the earth once again became prolific.  Eating big meals in autumn, when food was available, helped people put on a little extra fat, which the body could burn off in the dead of winter. 

Finally, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Chanukah, Kwanza, New Years, and similar holidays all share a similar theme - celebrating the returning of light after maximum darkness. Whether we thank Christ, the savior for bringing us peace and salvation (Christmas), whether we regard with wonder the Sun God gradually returning more light to the world as we start moving toward spring (Winter Solstice), whether we commemorate the miracle of the Festival of Lights, when one cup of oil kept a poor woman’s candles burning for eight days (Chanukah), the themes of enlightenment, blessing and miracles are present.  And the New Year - celebrating the birth of another life cycle, and Kwanzaa - commemorating survival of African culture and traditions throughout the world both embrace survival and rebirth.  

Looking at things from the perspectives of treasuring friends and family, living and deceased, thanking the earth for daily survival, and celebrating the return of light into our days, and mercy, grace and peace into our lives, we could conclude that we have much to be thankful for, and that we can do much to make the holidays happy.  A thankful attitude can help reduce physical and emotional stress and help increase the joy in each day.

This blog’s offer:  please accept my best wishes for happiness, prosperity and health for the coming yearly cycle.