RELIEF & BELIEF

Christmas Beliefs

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

19 December 2019

I sometimes wonder if folks who don’t celebrate Christmas have the right idea. With the big day less than a week away, this single momma is secretly praying for elves to come wrap all these gifts. There are about four gifts left on my list and a debit card that has been swiped so many times the strip is wearing thin. I’ve also second-guessed buying a house without a basement. Where am I supposed to store all this stuff? I do admit, though, daydreaming about the relief I’ll feel on December 26th might make the whole ordeal worth it.

re·lief – a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress

Anxiety or distress? On Christmas? What about silent nights? Where’s the peace on Earth? And most important, where’s the figgy pudding?

be·lief – an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.

Christmas is centered around two beliefs. The belief in the birth of Christ on Earth – the Son of God – as well as the belief in a jolly old bloke dressed in crimson giving you (and everyone else in the world) gifts under a withering (or fake) tree inside your home. The stories that surround these beliefs have been told for countless years. And they’re accepted as truth. Why? Because storytelling is in our DNA – and believing in stories – especially good ones – feels good.

The idea that we’re ‘wired for story’ is more than a catchy phrase. Neuroeconomist, Dr. Paul Zak, has found that following a story – a narrative with a beginning, a middle, and an end – causes our brains to release cortisol and oxytocin. These chemicals trigger the uniquely human ability to connect, empathize, and make meaning. Story is literally in our DNA. ― Brené Brown, Rising Strong

With less than a week left until Christmas, I’m going to take a step back and listen to the seasonal stories. I’m going to prepare for the holiday, as well as for the relief that will soon follow. The anxiety and distress may have become a part of this commercialized holiday, but the belief in knowing that something better will come is a necessity.

There is relief in having a belief. Whether that belief is in Santa, Jesus, or yourself.

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