by Nicole Pressley
Holiday madness is in full swing. We may be gearing up for a large and possibly overly ambitious holiday meal. Perhaps we are tracking emails about upcoming Black Friday sales. Some of us may be curbing our road rage with jubilant holiday music on our morning commutes.
But for some of us, the holidays can be a tough time, a mixed bag of intense joy, deep sadness, and a sense of being overwhelmed. We become acutely aware of loved ones we’ve lost. We may be experiencing the anxiety of strained relationships or the ache of unhealed emotional wounds. Nevertheless,we may be able to find some joy in this season of gratitude, even in the midst of the holiday blues.
Have doubts? Just ask UUCA member, Pam Kilmer. You may know Pam from her beautiful vocals in the UUCA choir or her welcoming smile at the reception desk. Thanksgiving is Pam’s favorite holiday. She says it’s the one holiday centered around “great food, people you love and giving thanks.” This helps her get through the difficult times.
Diligent about expressing gratitude as part of her spiritual practice, especially during the holidays, Pam reflects each morning, before she gets out of bed, on what matters most in her life: health, family, music and friends. “Gratitude is something people just forget about,” she notes. “You think about what’s not right and what you don’t have. But when you think about the things that you do have, the things that are good in your life, and you concentrate on the happy stuff, it changes your attitude.”
For Pam, this is not just a personal practice. She posts her gratitude lists to Facebook as a reminder to others, hoping readers will begin to think about what they are grateful for and experience the same fulfilling benefits. “More happy people in the world can’t hurt,” she says.
This pay-it-forward perspective is not exclusive to Pam’s social media. For over 10 years, she and her husband, Arlo, have hosted what they call an “Orphans’ Thanksgiving.” The couple opens their home to folks who do not have family, or folks who for whatever reason, won’t be celebrating this holiday with a gathering of loved ones. “People count on us, now, to have our dinners,” Pam says. This year, 26 people will join the Kilmers for Thanksgiving dinner. Their home is currently at capacity, but she encourages others to expand this tradition.
It’s clear how much Pam loves and appreciates her network. Pam’s November 20, 2019, gratitude post reads, “Today I am thankful for my congregation UUCA which gives me so much. It’s a home for my spirit, a group of like-minded people and an opportunity to participate in worthwhile things.” We, at UUCA, hope you feel the same.
May your faith and faith community sustain you through this holiday season. Remember, the UUCA Pastoral Care line is open throughout the holidays. Please give us a call or send us a message. We love you, and we are here for you.
UUCA Pastoral Care