The holidays are wonderful opportunities to reflect on the year’s blessings, for giving, and for spending extra time with family and friends. They can be times of great joy, happiness, gratitude, and offer an opportunity to renew relationships.
But sometimes people have disappointing holiday experiences. They may confront the resurfacing of issues causing uncomfortable relationships, feelings of loneliness and separation, or the financial burden of holiday giving.
Here are three tips anyone can use to prepare for the holidays.
1. Sustaining amiable relationships
In planning for the holidays, it’s a good idea to make prayer an important part of the planning. Praying by acknowledging God as the source of all goodness, and man as His image and likeness individually reflecting God’s goodness, helps us approach the arrival of holiday guests with joyful expectancy. Praying to see past mortal personalities to true spiritual identities, we see our family and friends as they really are – God’s individual expressions of goodness and love.
Granted, most of us have a long way to go in consistently having this view of ourselves and others. The ultimate example of one whose life was devoted to seeing in this way was Christ Jesus. In the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy described Jesus’ view in this way: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 476-477). Endeavoring to follow Jesus’ prayerful approach – to whatever degree we feel we can – will not only change our attitude; it will also bless all those we come into contact with.
2. Finding an answer to loneliness
For those who won’t be with family or friends during the holidays, prayer is an effective way to prepare. Understanding that God is the only true Father-Mother of each of us, we are all siblings in the family of God. A psalm promises, “God setteth the solitary in families” (68:6).
When an individual prays to gain a greater realization of the spiritual fact that man’s family includes all humanity, opportunities to see and experience an expanded and deeper sense of family are manifested in the individual’s experience. In the spirit of holiday giving, people, regardless of their situation, can always use prayer to identify the wealth of spiritual goodness in their hearts that is always ready to bless others. And in return, they find renewed happiness and self-fulfillment.
3. Dealing with finances
Holidays are a wonderful time of giving. But many may feel financially burdened by giving, and may feel after-effects for many months. By synchronizing our thinking with God through spiritual prayer, we can be directed to make wise decisions about appropriate giving. Prayer connects our thinking with the infinite Father-Mother God, our true source of useful and beneficial good ideas. Mrs. Eddy wrote: “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment.” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 307).
Gratitude, an important holiday element, causes us to appreciate the rich goodness that is already apparent in our lives. It counteracts fear and discouragement, and puts us quickly on track to receive the blessings God has in store. As you put your to-do lists together to prepare for the holidays, consider putting prayer at the very top.