WT 86: Practicing Gratitude and Preparing Your Heart for the Holidays

Being prepared for the holidays is more than just buying gifts and preparing food. It’s also about preparing our hearts for being grateful, showing hospitality and influencing our children. Listen in for encouragement and a few tips to make this season awesome!

 Question 1: Karen, I heard recently that gratitude isn’t a feeling… it’s a choice. I love that because it’s so true! What are some ways I can choose to be grateful or practice gratitude even when I don’t feel like it?

Karen’s Answer: It is a choice and one you must intentionally make. For me, even during the hard times, I have to find something good. For instance, during those years in VA when Greg was traveling almost the entire month at a time, and the children were little, I had to be grateful that I had a husband that was working so hard for our family to provide for us, that he had bought us a nice house to live in, in a safe neighborhood, that my children had friends to play with and I had a good network of friends to keep me company. I had to choose to be grateful that Greg loved his jobs and they were fulfilling to him so when he came home, he was in a good mood, and not beat down from his work.

I just published a Gratefulness journal for this very reason. This book prompts a mom on ideas where we can choose gratefulness. I think so many times in a mom’s world, we have so much to be grateful for, but we don’t see it because we are focusing on what is not going right. I’m hoping that this journal will be a helpful too in a mom’s world to turn their perspective in a different direction.

Make a choice to be grateful

Question 2: Karen, I just don’t love my home! We are hosting the holidays this year and I feel consumed with all the updates and changes I want to make and décor I want to buy beforehand that probably isn’t in our budget. How do you show hospitality when you feel like your home is less than perfect?

Karen’s Answer: This is REAL life and I love it! Okay, I’m going to be real with you for a minute; I get that you don’t love your home, I struggled with that for more years than I care to admit. But, the deal is, hospitality doesn’t come from perfect decorations, the latest decor and updated decorating skills. Hospitality comes from your heart. You can create a home that is very welcoming without buying one new thing. Here are some ideas:

  • Music- play soothing background music to set the tone of the house, either Christmas music or worship music or even classical.

  • Smells- Light a few scented candles throughout your home to give off the fragrance of the season, it will do wonders. Bake some cookies right before your guests arrive

  • Little things make a big difference: a few fresh flowers in a bud vase in guest bathrooms, clean towels placed in the bathroom with possible travel size shampoo, conditioner and body wash for your guests to use.

  • Being the best host you can be doesn’t call for any upgrades in your home. Extend grace and love, there is nothing more inviting than those two traits.

I’ve found over the years, guests in my home do not notice everything that I’ve noticed, so try to look past them and don’t be defensive about it, i.e.: I’m sorry this room needs painting and the carpet is so dirty. Don’t point it out and people will probably not notice.

 Question 3: Karen, how do you teach gratitude to your kids? I always tell my kids to be grateful, but I’m not sure how to show them.

Karen’s Answer: You can show them by you being grateful yourself, even in less than great situations. You can ask them a simple question, “What can you be grateful for in this situation?” Give your child some time to think about it. You might be stretching a muscle that they have not used before, so it may take some time, and you may need to guide them a bit at first. Play a game where for a week you write out all the things the family is choosing to be grateful for. Have a competition, on who can come up with the most things to be grateful. At the end of the week, everyone reads out their grateful list and the one who has the most “real” things they get a prize.

Make it fun! This is a great month to start exercising your choice to be thankful!

Question 4: Like most people, the start of the holidays is my favorite time of year but super busy. What things do you do to stop and enjoy the season and not get caught up in all the stuff that comes with it?

 Karen’s Answer: There are so many fun things. Here are a few:

  • ride around and look at the Christmas lights with the children

  • Play Christmas music in the house from Thanksgiving to Christmas

  • I like to wrap all of our presents, for me it is relaxing, I spread everything out on the dinning room table and make a whole afternoon of it

  • We watch Christmas movies together as a family

  • We like to attend a Christmas service at the church, and read the Christmas story

  • I like to sit in the den with all the lights out except for the Christmas tree and just drink a hot tea, or hot chocolate or coffee and soak it all in.

  • I like to read through Luke especially the first few chapters.

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Thank you, moms. Have a great day!