“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Last week I awoke with a sense of anxiety. An unsettling, restless feeling that I should be doing or had forgotten something. But what?

I learned these Christmas balls are plastic. Cool!

I learned these Christmas balls are plastic. Cool!

Even before Thanksgiving, I’d seen men with towering ladders stringing Christmas lights atop roofs. Pretty, but I’m content to admire theirs. Christmas balls appeared on trees around the neighborhood, perhaps giving me the feeling I should be decorating. But why would those lovely ornaments make me stressed?

I’ve read about stress over the years. Bottom line: It’s usually not good for our health. One study suggests that even positive events can cause stress. Yet some people seem to thrive on it. Is there no way to win? Battling traffic and watching the news are stressors for me. Both literally raise my blood pressure. But during the Holiday season, is it possible to avoid stressors and enjoy happiness?

Amish couple heading home after church service.

Old Order Amish couple heading home after church service in Lancaster County.

The Amish often come to mind. As a group they seem at peace, but in truth they carry challenges and disappointments of every sort, both emotional and financial. How do you think they cope? I heard a gentleman recently say, “The key to happiness is gratitude,” which he attributed to Hans Selye, an endocrinologist who studied in depth the bad effects of stress on the human body and mind. Especially this time of year, the world abounds with stressful situations and yet not an abundance of gratitude.

I think of the word entitlement. With the mindset that one is entitled, can gratitude be achieved? For people who feel entitled is it even possible to speak words of gratitude?

A fun display for the holidays!

A fun display for the holidays!

This season has been called the happiest time of the year. Are you feeling grateful or does the holiday hubbub stress you out? Is gratitude a natural emotion, or must we work at it? What could make you grateful in the worst of times?

Amish-made table topper and fun hot-pad,

Amish-made table topper and potholder from Lancaster County. PA,

Leave a comment to enter to win this stunning Amish-made table topper and fun potholder, plus a signed copy of A Letter from Lancaster County, or one signed book from the Legacy of Lancaster Trilogy – either CBA bestseller Leaving Lancaster, its sequel CBA bestseller Pennsylvania Patchwork, or Forever Amish.

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