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Shelly Henley Kelly offers a reminder to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness to be carried through the holiday season ahead.

Cool weather finally arrived in our area and there’s something fresh and new in the crisp mornings. The crazy scramble in the closet searching for a jacket, gives way to the pleasure of discovering a crumpled five-dollar bill from last spring in the pocket.

This year almost felt normal again; we’ve adapted to changes in jobs, schools, teams, and – in our area at least – the calendar is once again full of practices, meetings, and lessons.

At this time of year it’s easy to get caught up in how we think or feel about our life right now. We may be surrounded by family and still feel lonely and unheard. Our life may be busy and productive or an empty desert. We may want for nothing yet feel the pang of a friend in need.

Too often, there is a lot of pressure to prepare the perfect experience for our family. However, our holiday traditions of food, décor, or gifts, are not the only experiences we pass down to our children.


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Our holiday traditions of food, décor, or gifts, are not the only experiences we pass down to our children. #catholicmom

As mothers we are responsible for modeling a healthy attitude for our family. Our demeanor creates a ripple effect as our children, young and old, adopt our attitude and project it outward. They learn from us, just as we learned from others, particularly our parents. Think of the life traditions we learned and are teaching: How we care for the sick or elderly. How we welcome a new family member. How to accept death and celebrate life. How to face adversity. How to be thankful.


To convert somebody go and take them by the hand and guide them. (St. Thomas Aquinas)


This holiday season, welcome experiences that draw you closer to your children, young and old. Make time to be present and intentional with them. Involve them in your plans and preparation. Allow them to learn by doing, expect mistakes to be made, and use the opportunity to model patience, compassion, and mercy. If your grown children can’t be home with you this holiday season, make time to talk on the phone, listen to them. Share their sorrow, magnify their joy.


family preparing vegetables for a meal


If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. (Philippians 2:1-2)


The books in the Old and New Testament encourage us to be conscious of the benefit we receive through God’s mercy and goodness more than 70 times. This attitude of gratitude is a learned behavior that must be mindfully practiced until it becomes familiar. All good things come from Christ. 

In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:13)

I wish you all a blessed and thankful holiday season.

Copyright 2021 Shelly Henley Kelly
Images: Canva Pro