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Family Gathering

Let’s face it … life and death are all about proper quantities.  Take water for example; we need it to survive. However, when we have too much of it, we drown.
I saw a recent post on a Facebook site where readers were challenged to come up with a four-word sentence that ruined Thanksgiving. There were a number of very funny ones such as“Dad’s doing the cooking” but my favorite was shared by a mother who explained that her four-year-old toddler yelled, “these people won’t leave!” after an apparently lengthy Thanksgiving celebration.
As we near Thanksgiving and Christmas, many of us begin making preparations for the big celebrations. We find that friends grow nearer and family often gathers together to celebrate these joyous occasions.  Occasionally, in the course of all this, we are reminded that like water, too much of a good thing becomes suffocating.
I love having family over and can’t have a full enough house. However, there are times when I begin to experience sensory overload… all the wonderful food, the cacophony of multiple conversations, the ball game on TV, the dogs chasing each other and the noise of the toys … it all becomes overwhelming. Am I the only one who experiences this?  In the supposition that I’m not alone in this experience, I would like to share a couple of techniques I use to take a brief retreat from the stimulation.
Find a quiet area for just 5-10 minutes. This is difficult if you are at someone else’s home (e.g. your bosses house for a Christmas party). They would probably frown on it if you retreated to their bedroom for a short nap … but then again, if you’re adventurous… you’ll probably want to check on the health of your 401k first though.  A better option might be to retreat to the bathroom for a short respite of uninterrupted silence. I wouldn’t recommend spending more than 5 minutes or so in there or else folks will start wondering if the yams turned bad — seriously, how can you tell when those things are spoiled?
If you are at your home, you have a greater number of areas to find that short break in the noise — it’s ok. Even Superman had to go to his fortress of solitude occasionally.
At the risk of exposing too many of my personal options, and therefore rendering them ineffective for me, I will share my favorite… I have discovered there is often some vital ingredient for the recipe that we forgot to buy so I will volunteer to make the quick run to the store. I find that during these situations, a drive into town helps reset the sensory fuse box.
Of course, probably the most effective way to deal with the temporary sensory overload is simply to embrace it – focus on the joy of having everyone gathered together. It may be quite some time before everyone is gathered together again. So, I suggest that when you experience the sensory overload of the holidays, just jump into the conversation, grab another slice of pecan pie with a dollop of whipped cream, and dig in.  Maybe that is why these holidays only come around once a year … it takes the remainder of the year to recover.
In all seriousness, I am so excited about the season we are entering.  It provides great opportunities to reflect on what we are thankful for and why. I especially love Christmas. For me, it isn’t about the gifts or the husky bearded guy in the red suit. Instead, it is a time for me to reflect on the gift of the Savior of the world, coming to earth as an infant to show us how to live and love and ultimately, to become the redeeming sacrifice for us. Now that is a gift that can’t be topped!
Scriptural Foundation
Psalm 100:4  Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him; bless His name.

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