There is an annoying post floating around on Pinterest that, for whatever reason, I like each time it comes into my vision. On a plethora of holiday colored backgrounds — most likely one dollar Canva stock — floats the following quote: too blessed to be stressed.
The words usually swirl around each other in beginner’s calligraphy and while I’m sick of seeing it, I still give a little Amen nod each time it travels in and out of my peripheral. I will admit, however, that it has reached the time of year where I start to wonder about these sorts of things. How much weight should I give a Pinterest post, really? Just because it rhymes, does that make it more true? Is the calligraphy accentuating the meaning, or detracting from it? Can one seriously be so grateful all the time that they cease to panic about public speaking engagements?
So, I have altered the phrase to fit my current state — that is, filled with vibrating nervous energy and a permanent sense of drowsiness, while also being filled with gratitude — I have made my mantra of the 2015 holiday season simply, “blessed to be stressed.”
Not too blessed, just plain blessed.
Working for a church of the Christian variety brings with it a certain understanding as Christmas approaches. The old-lady joke, “Jesus is coming, look busy!” doesn’t need to be told. There is a constant buzz in the air; a flurry of advent activity, all centered around the theme of active waiting without actually permitting anyone the space to do it. There is the hum of carols, the buckets of tin-foil crowns and tinsel halos, the never-ending panic about who has the newest newborn that could play Jesus and the hard reality that for many people in our midst, Christmas isn’t a time of hope, peace, joy and love.
For many people, filling the weeks leading up to December 25th is hardship unlike any I have ever known. Grief, loss, loneliness, illness, famine, war, addiction, defeat — these emotions crowd our sanctuaries amidst the laughter of children dressed as shepherds and readings from the book of Luke. While the biggest textbook joy of Christmas is accepting the promise of new beginnings and unconditional love, we often only recognize the need for that promise when all has gone awry.
Surrounded by all of that — the hurt, the fear, the unknown, the rock bottoms — it is hard for me to consider seasonal stress the be all and end all of the Christmas Spirit. Too blessed to be stressed, maybe, but more realistically I am blessed to be stressed as opposed to being lonely. I am blessed to be stressed as opposed to being ill. I am blessed to be stressed as opposed to struggling with any of the things that make this time of year so hard for some.
I passed the mantra on to my mother the other day and she laughed in agreement.
“Yes,” she responded, “that’s a good one.”
We chatted about our to-do lists, about our stressors, and about our schedules. And then, slowly, we started to discuss the things we were looking forward to. We talked of memories and of the inevitable accumulation of more. We talked about gratitude for health and family and comfort.
“Yes,” she said, “I like your mantra.”
“What’s yours?” I asked her, knowing that her wisdom would by far trump my botched Pinterest chant.
“It’s better to burn out than rust out!” she replied, and we laughed.
As my friends in South Asia would say, “same same but different.”
— Andria Parker is an Instagram-obsessed idealist with at least 600 words to share on every topic, ever.