By Jack McCall

With the holiday season upon us, I have been thinking of how to get the most out of this special time of the year. It has been estimated that we Americans just spent $8 billion on Halloween. That’s right – $8 billion. And it was over in a night.

Now we are headed headlong toward Thanksgiving. Christmas will be here “before you know it.” Sometimes I find the “speed” of life a bit unsettling. I am not alone.

So here are a few suggestions to help you get the most out of the days immediately ahead.

Across the Miles
Jack McCall

Be thankful. Start early. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving Day to count your blessings. I have long suggested a little exercise that works wonders. Take a sheet of paper and write down the 25 things for which you are most grateful. That’s right, 25 things. Take your time. Writing things down will force you to focus – and think. If you really want to “walk where angels trod” (or take your thinking to a higher level), make a new list of 25 every day for the next 30 days.

Here’s what will happen: After a day or two, your top ten things (maybe up to 15) will fall right into place. As you work your way down your list, you will begin to look for new things to add. This will make you become more aware of all that surrounds you. You will begin to look for things for which you are thankful.

Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar used to say, in his patented Southern drawl, “People find fault like there’s a reward for it.” Don’t let that be you! Look for the good, and be thankful.

Be generous. The Good Book says when you give, do it secretly, and “don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Think of creative ways to help someone. The Nashville Rescue Mission does a great work. You can provide a meal for less than $2.50. Mail a check. When you see a need this holiday season, fill it. Be generous.

Be thoughtful. Now that all the ugly political ads are behind us (at least for the time being), let’s concentrate of all that unites us instead of what divides us. We all could use a long drink from “the milk of human kindness.” The late Glen Campbell once sang, “And if you try a little kindness, you’ll overlook the blindness of the narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded street.” Be thoughtful.

Be aware. The ancient Scriptures warn, “Be sober, be vigilant,” translated, “Be on guard,” Be watchful.” Why? Because of the adversary. We warn our children and grandchildren all the time, “Be careful.”

In years gone by when I would share with my late mother some of the trials and tribulations we were going through with our teenage boys, she would counsel, “Son, it’s a dangerous world out there.” And so it is.

There are so many things that attempt to rob us of the joys of the holiday season. The increasing intrusion of technology into our lives, the rush to shop, busy schedules, and financial pressures, to name a few. We are busy, busy, busy. It requires quiet minds and hearts to be truly thankful; and to fully experience the hallowedness of “Silent Night, Holy Night.” Be aware.

Be patient. We are about to enter the season of long lines and traffic snarls. Remember the two rules: Rule #1 – “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Rule #2 – “Everything is small stuff.” Well, maybe.

If it won’t matter 100 years from now, it probably doesn’t matter. As a friend of mine says from time to time, “The main thing is to make sure the main thing is the main thing.”

So, if you find yourself being overwhelmed in the days ahead, be reminded “This too shall pass.” Be patient.

And finally, be happy! Abraham Lincoln quipped, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” Make up your mind, and be happy.

The best is yet to come.