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Why I’m thankful for holiday stress

We’re approaching the busiest and most stressful time of year for many people, with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas looming. Relatives are visiting, grown kids are coming home, presents need to be purchased and there are more functions to attend, whether at work, school or church.

I always feel like a runner at the starting block at this time of year, knowing that I’m about to make the year-end sprint: finishing up projects at work, hosting holiday dinners, buying and wrapping gifts for dozens of people and spending as much time as possible with our four grown children.

One of the things I’ve learned from reading tens of thousands of Chicken Soup for the Soul stories is just how lucky I am. The only reason I have all this holiday stress is because I have so many wonderful people and events in my life! I read so many tragic stories about people who have lost loved ones. They would give anything to have those people back for the holidays. I wouldn’t trade away a single one of my chores, because every gift I buy, every meal I prepare and every place I set at my table represents someone I am lucky enough to have in my life.

We have a perfect example of this thought process in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom’s Survival Guide. Gina Lee Guilford wrote a story called “The Secret Life of a Busy Mom,” in which she confessed, “There are days when I feel like ditching my SUV at the airport and hopping a plane to Bora Bora. In my dreams, I am remarkably free of the overwhelming responsibility of the care and upkeep of a home and family.”

But Gina goes on to say, “And then reality strikes, and I remember what my life was like before I married and had kids. There was something missing, and what I wanted, more than anything, was someone to love, who would love me back. It is then that I realize I am exactly where I want to be.”

The American playwright and author Thornton Wilder summed it up when he said, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” That’s great advice for the coming holiday season. I intend to remain fully conscious of how blessed I am to have each of those dozens of people on my gift list and around my table. I’m going to call my mother now and offer to host Thanksgiving once again, even though it seems impossible to squeeze yet another major responsibility onto my calendar.

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