Is Your Heart Prepared for the Holiday Stress? (Facing the Busyness Without Grumping, Whining, or Self-Pity)

The holidays are upon us.

I made it all the way to Thursday when *BAM* someone says, “yeah, just one week until Thanksgiving.”


Is Your Heart Prepared for the Holiday Stress? // Facing the Busyness Without Grumping, Whining, or Self-Pity //
Admittedly, this year I don’t have much to do for Thanksgiving. Several families are getting together, and so I have a turkey, and two other items, to bring. One of which I can make in advance and refrigerate. Easy-peasy (compared to the overseas years when I’d often be in charge of the whole enchilada, all by my poor little self).

But I got to thinking– we all have things we may dread about the holiday season:

  • Feeling like you have to please everyone with all the meet-ups and celebrations
  • Lots of food and treats to prepare
  • Trying to select the “right” gifts for each person on your list (some of whom you realize you need a gift for at the last minute)
  • Hosting people in your home for a get-together & all the prep-work that comes with that
  • For many, Pinterest-perfection-pressure increases during this time of year
  • Pressure to have good family pictures & send out cards
  • Trying to make the most of discipleship opportunities with our children, even amidst the stress
  • Travel to various commitments… perhaps even long-distance travel, which means packing, planning, stress…
  • Family events.
  • Church events.
  • Community events.
  • Busyness in general. Even a trip to the store FEELS busier because the stores are more filled with people.
  • A budget stretched tight to accommodate it all.

But what if we purposed…

(me, as I’m brining my turkey this week, and you as you’re traveling, or getting the kids to smile for that picture on your front porch, trying to choose foods that won’t make your postpartum body plump up to previously-unforeseen-heights, or attending the event you actually wish wasn’t on your calendar)

what if we purposed to have thankful hearts?

What if we took to heart these verses, right here in the midst of our holiday season:

“Do everything without grumbling and arguing”
~Philippians 2:14

What if we applied it like this:

“Brine your turkey and pack your bags for the long drive, and get your extra shopping trip done, even the one to go back & get the forgotten ingredient, without grumbling in your heart and without additional arguments with your husband and children (that includes your mom or mother-in-law)”

Or what about if we took this one:

“Whatever you do in word or deed,
do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
~Colossians 3:17

translated it in our brains, and became:

In every conversation you have, whether with the grocery clerk, your child, or too-chatty Uncle Phil, and in every action you take, whether rushed or well-planned, do it all EVERY COMMITMENT… EACH INSTANCE OF CORRECTING YOUR CHILD… EACH TASK… CHORE… EXCITING EVENT… “BORING” COMMITMENT YOU WISH YOU HADN’T SAID YES TO… do it ALL with the idea that Jesus can be glorified
MAGNIFIED, made to look as incredible as He is, put on display to the world, uniquely praised, THROUGH YOU– your thankfulness, your joyful countenance, your calm spirit amidst the crazy, your rest in God even in busy days– BECAUSE YOU HAVE GENUINE THANKFULNESS TO GOD.


We can do this.

You can do this. This week. During Thanksgiving. During Christmas.

We can’t do it on our own, but we CAN do it, because He commands it, and His commands are not burdensome. He not only tells us to do it, but He gives us the strength and the fruit of the Spirit to enable our obedience.


  • When the toddler throws a tantrum and you don’t want to have to deal with it because you’re getting to visit with someone you haven’t seen in ages, stand up yet again, mama, and go deal with it — without grumbling, and with thanksgiving.
  • When the edges of the pumpkin pie burn because you were cleaning and didn’t hear the timer go off, you can magnify Christ. You can counsel your heart with truth: “He is perfect; I am not.  I don’t have to labor under a burden of perfect performance.”
  • When a relative adds another layer of “must-do” on top of what you already thought was a stressful visit, you can rest. Rest under the leadership of your God, under the leadership of your husband, and within your role as mom. It may be that you don’t need to do that thing… or if you do, God will give you the strength you need to do it with a thankful heart. Really. This is not me waxing philosophical. I believe God can enable us to do this if we come to him with honesty in our hearts. “Show me ways to be thankful. Help me to even lead the children in finding things to be thankful about this that I initially did not see.”



Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast ( I write and wrangle kids.

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6 Responses

  1. My philosophy is, don’t bite off more than you can chew. If the holidays bring thoughts of dread and stress, then too much has been bitten off. Far too often we get caught up in what the culture says we should be doing during the holidays that we lose sight of what it’s really all about. For example, Christmas is about celebrating Christ coming to us, not about buying presents for every person we know even though we can’t really afford to, like so many people think it is. If you can’t afford (or don’t have time) too find a nice present for every extended family member, every friend, every co-worker, and tons of presents for your kids, etc, then don’t worry about it. The world isn’t gonna end. I’ve spent most of my adult life just barely getting by financially, so I’ve long since had to tell people that I just don’t have the money to buy for everybody, and will therefore only buy for just those closest to me, or for nobody at all sometimes, and that they don’t need to worry about buying anything for me either. Everyone always understands, and most even look very relieved to have one less person to buy for themselves. It really is ok to not get caught up in all the hype, and you can enjoy the time so much better by placing more time and importance on the parts of it that really matter most.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Absolutely! Great input… we’ve done the same thing, just being honest with people that, “this year is a tight year for us; we won’t be able to do gifts,” and have always gotten good responses. And yes we get the relieved responses too. :)

      I think Pinterest and the rise of two-income families has piled on the pressure (and Pinterest continues to add to it), but having a simple Christ-centered Christmas really is delightful!

  2. Laura says:

    Well, in Canada we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in November; ours is at the beginning of October. So there is no stressing for me this week :) We leisurely put up our tree last night and now I am leisurely planning a Christmas party for December 20th… not rubbing it in or anything… :)

    That being said, we are traveling 1200 km across the country two days after Christmas to spend New Year’s with my husband’s family. Packing for a trip stresses me out at the best of times; two days after Christmas? Yikes! So although I am feeling relaxed and lighthearted right now, rest assured that when you are enjoying your day-after-Christmas relaxation, I will be flying around my house doing laundry and packing. So. There you have it.

    Thanks again for the timely encouragement, Jess! Your cyber-mentorship does more good for me than you know!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Good to hear from you, Laura!

      And good on you for already being past your Thanksgiving rush! Well after writing this article last night, I woke up this morning and decided I’d really like to paint my dining room this week, LOL. So I added to, rather than decreasing, my “to-dos” … eye roll. But it’s a good thing. I’ll make some pie crusts, paint a wall, make & bake one of the pies, paint a little more… we decided to take the week off from school, so that buys me a little time…

      OH man, I feel your pain about packing & planning for a trip. Even though I’ve done packing/planning/flying around the world multiple times in years past, I’m finding that I’m relaxing just fine into a stationary lifestyle without all the running here & there. So, yeah. Have fun with your trip. Lord willing, by then, I’ll be cozying up (hopefully by then with my yarn & pattern selected for Luke’s blanket) and crocheting like the dickens. :)

      Happy holiday season to you, Laura (saying that generically because you’re past your Thanksgiving & not yet to Christmas, LOL). (Now I’m laughing at my felt need to explain.)

  1. November 25, 2014

    […] Is Your Heart Prepared for the Holiday Stress? […]

  2. December 6, 2016

    […] Face Holiday Busyness & Stress (Without Grumping, Whining or SelfPity)? […]

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