This holiday season . . . 
Before you get frustrated with the long lines at checkout at the department stores . . . recognize that you are among a group of people who are purchasing items to try to bring joy to other people, and sit in that for a second.
Before you get angry at the person who cuts you off in the mall parking lot . . . take a pause and consider if you may have ever accidentally missed someone in your blind spot on the road.
Before you get upset that your friend sent a last-minute text that she and her family can’t make it to your holiday party after all . . . consider that one time you were personally struggling and wished you would have said no to something you didn’t have the energy to do.
Before you get frustrated with the mother in front of you on Thanksgiving Eve who is holding up the grocery line as she wrangles kids and can’t find her credit card in her purse among the diapers, extra clothes, and old crackers . . . consider the time you needed someone to be patient with you, and the way it felt to be given grace.
Before you beat yourself up about burning the holiday cookies you wanted to make for your neighbors, or get upset that the turkey came out a little dry . . . remember what you teach your children about accepting and embracing their imperfections.
Before you take out your anger on the customer service representative for the incorrect order you received or the item that was ruined during shipping . . . remember how you felt when you were blamed for something that wasn’t directly your fault.
Before you beeline maneuver around the elderly woman shopping for groceries on Christmas Eve on your way to getting last-minute items for your extended family celebration . . . consider the fact that she may be celebrating the holidays alone, and the impact you could make if you chose to stop for a moment, say hello, smile, and wish her a happy holiday.
Before you scroll your social media feed and feel bad about all of the holiday activities you’re NOT taking your children to . . . remember how much you cherished those memories from your childhood when you all ate popcorn and watched Christmas movies in your pajamas.
Before you judge the family in the pew in front of you whose children are misbehaving . . . consider the grace and support the God you are there to honor would want you to extend to them.
Before you celebrate this holiday season . . . pause and remember what it’s really about.
See the people around you.
Embrace the perspective.
Advocate for peace.
Be the grace.

Brea Schmidt

Brea Schmidt is a writer, speaker and photographer who aims to generate authentic conversation about motherhood and daily life on her blog, The Thinking Branch. Through her work, she aims to empower people to overcome their fears and insecurities and live their truth. She and her husband raise their three children in Pittsburgh, PA.