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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

When “Home for the Holidays” Isn’t Possible


Ministers work when everyone else is on vacation. Someone has to lead the Wednesday night prayer service just before Thanksgiving. Many churches have a Christmas Eve service or three, and if Christmas is on the weekend, your pastor will be there. When your pastor is also your husband, these situations often indicate you’ll spend the holidays away from your extended family.

I’m not discounting the loneliness that arises because of these situations. It’s real. If, however, you choose to redeem the distance, you may find greater significance and some special memories in your new normal.

Four Ways to Redeem the Distance at Thanksgiving

1.      Evaluate what’s really important about the holiday.
Chances are, your previous Thanksgivings were taken up in the stress of preparing your own home or taking your family to someone else’s home. Either way, you were thankful, but giving thanks probably wasn’t at the top of your to-do list. This year, be thankful for the lack of distractions, then take some time to really think about thanksgiving. Not Pilgrims and Indians (although that’s fun) but gratitude for the previous year. Search the Scriptures (Psalms are a good place to start) for verses that help you generate gratitude; make crafts with your children or decorate a board with one of the verses. (There are probably a thousand ideas on Pinterest to help you do this.) Let your actions become an act of worship.

2.      Establish your own special traditions.
What did you love about Thanksgiving as a child? As you’ve grown as a Believer, what do you realize has been missing from your past observances? Now you have the opportunity to incorporate those things into your family story! Maybe one of your activities from above will become an annual practice.

3.      Bless others.
Most of the time, our holidays are centered on our extended families and those feel-good, kin-folk moments, but many people will be lonely this Thanksgiving. Seek out others in your church or community who also cannot travel and invite them to your home for Thanksgiving. If you want to maintain the eat-until-you’re-stuffed tradition, this is the way to do it! In opening your home (or carrying your hospitality to someone else’s home) you’ll lose your own loneliness without even realizing it.

4.      Schedule time with family outside the holidays.
We don’t want to distance ourselves from our families, so before the holiday arrives, make sure everyone knows why you won’t be there. Find a time when you can visit each family and schedule it now so that, when the holiday hits, you and your extended family will have something to look forward to.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a dreary, lonely time just because you can’t be “home for the holidays.” Remember God has placed you in this place for a purpose. You can choose to redeem the distance and glorify God in your right-here right-now.

Come back next month, and I’ll tell you about our first sweat-drenched Christmas overseas!


In the meantime, what about you? How have you redeemed the distance when you couldn’t travel for the holidays?

About the author:

Carole Sparks is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her website, http://carolesparks.com or her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.com.

You can also find Carole on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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