Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Was it just me, or was Thanksgiving a blur this year? The holiday that was designed for us to reflect and give thanks was still in full swing, when the next season encroached upon us in full force. While I knew that certain stores were opening Thanksgiving evening, I had been so busy preparing for Thanksgiving that I didn’t know (until one of my sons left after dinner with a group of friends) that entire malls were remaining open through the night for a new kind of Black Friday shopping experience.
Thanksgiving falls after midterms on the academic calendar. Colleges and universities will soon be in final exams for the semester. Online lectures and study notes are now a regular part of a college student’s life. One of my sons came home for the holiday and immediately began studying online for five final exams. While I am grateful that he is a double dean’s list accounting major at UB, I wasn’t glad when he left—right after Thanksgiving dinner, to return to campus. He explained that our internet was connecting too slowly, and that he needed to get back in order to get a better connection to the university websites needed. Despite my efforts to persuade him to stay a little later to savor the holiday, he returned to his studies. We have four wonderful young adult sons, and I greatly enjoy their company. I was disappointed that he left, but he is focused and determined, and remembering my own university years, I understood.
Just yesterday, I took down all of my beloved fall decorations — earlier than ever before, to “deck the halls” for Christmas. Golden pumpkins, burgundy leaves, Pilgrims, turkeys, and Native American sculptures made way for poinsettias, manger scenes, snowmen, garland and Santas. As I changed my “autumn wreath” scented candles for “Christmas Time” scented candles, I realized that I too had yielded to the increasingly earlier celebration of Christmas, and in my heart of hearts, I had a “reality check,” and I had a good laugh. I made the choice to rejoice.
When holidays don’t go the way we’ve planned, or when life’s disappointments come our way, we have a choice to make. When the hustle and bustle of rude shoppers, road raging drivers, or short tempered store clerks face us, we have a choice to make. We can respond in like manner — thus stooping to a low level of behavior, we can throw ourselves a huge pity party — with ourselves alone in attendance, or we can make the choice to rejoice within our hearts — no matter what is going on around us, and find ourselves in a moment of peace. One of my favorite Bible verses reminds me to do this: “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” Philippians 4:4.
I have found many quiet moments of rejoicing while waiting in line at a store. I have offered words of kindness or reassurance, to frazzled mothers of preschoolers (otherwise known as MOPS) while in the middle of my own Christmas shopping. A smile given across the room a stressed someone, holding a door, picking up someone’s dropped package—are examples of making the choice to rejoice. As we embrace this holiday season I invite you to make this choice. It will do wonders for your spirit if you do.Jackie Davis is an inspirational vocalist, musician and speaker with more than 20 years of television broadcast experience. Contact her at email@example.com.