The following was first published five years ago. It has been slightly modified to fit the current holiday season…

Holidays are intended to be joyful—a time of peace, reflection, and above all, savoring relationships. However, far too often, and after years of less-than-stellar experiences, we approach the holidays with an underlying tension, bracing for the worst, and hoping to survive the so-called festivities emotionally intact. Granted, we would do well to manage ourselves better amidst the hustle and bustle, and all that food. But for many, the key stressor of any holiday can ultimately be traced to one or more difficult relationships. It doesn’t have to be this way. 

My hope is that the following letter helps express the true intent of your heart toward your Heavenly Father and prepares you to have a blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving with your family—the kind that God intended all along:

My Precious Father,

I know you have a plan for my life which you have prepared before my birth. It includes Thanksgiving 2018. You’ve already worked out the path I am to walk. It remains for me to trust you, abide in Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, to walk, contentedly, in that plan. This holiday, I can’t wait to simply take a walk with you.

It is with this overriding truth in mind that I look forward to Thanksgiving with my family. This Thanksgiving is a celebration of what you are doing in the quiet of my soul. It is not about name relative here. It is about you, my Father. I have no expectation for the behavior of name relative here. Their thoughts, feelings, and actions are their responsibility, and I trust they’re doing the best they can. I know you are reaching out to change them in your time. With all my heart, I pray name relative here has a blessed and joyous Thanksgiving.

I thank you Father for the particular gifts you have given me and for teaching me to walk in those for your glory, not mine. And I thank you that through your love and your power I can confidently and calmly anticipate this holiday, and rest in what you are doing in and through my life. One thing I hear you telling me is to do the best I can. There is no need to stress over any mistakes I might make, or over keeping my flaws under wraps. You see these and will bring them to light in your time. Thank you for pruning these flaws from me, and for energizing me to focus instead on resting in you and walking in the strengths you have given me. 

This Thanksgiving, how can I use these strengths to kindly encourage those around me? How can I speak truth in gentleness and love? How can I walk through the events in contented peace, even in the midst of any strain or strife? These are the questions that I am asking. And I hear you respond: “Be gentle—gentleness is strength; if you take a painful blow, simply turn the other cheek; use this as an opportunity to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable; and let go of the need for others to agree with you.” Jesus was so gentle so as to not even bruise a reed. I look forward to being like that this holiday, Father. To prepare ahead of time, I hear you prompting me to be well rested and to spend much time in quiet in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Father, above all, I look forward to what you are doing in this whole process. Instead of me having an agenda to teach, correct, or defend, I will be waiting on your timing this year. I hear you calling me and animating me to speak slowly, softly, and briefly; to wear a smile; to let everything that bothers me flow like water under a bridge; and to spend the most time with those who are people of peace. This is a time to be thankful, indeed.

My Father, I can’t wait!

With all love and affection, 

Your son/daughter, Your Name Here 

Kevin Murray

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