In some families, christmas is like plastering a yearly coat of red and green paint over the cracks. It hides the problems and holds everything together.
I’ve always been hyper-sensitive to conflict. Even the barest sign of discord can give me neck pain, headaches and nausea. Deeply-established hostility makes me want to run away or sleep all day.
So I usually try to ignore the ugly along with everyone else. Cover it up. But that only turns me into an actor, not a real person. I expend so much energy pretending that it doesn't hurt, hiding it from the kids, and hoping that it will go away (or at least not get worse) that, in the end, I actually miss out on my chance to experience genuine joy from the occasion!
I know I'm not the only one. Conflict ain’t no good for no one! But those cracks won't get up and repair themselves.
We all want to get through christmas with a level of peace and grace, and if we put some thought into this, we have a greater chance of achieving it by abandoning the old ways.
It starts by choosing people. Deciding that we really want all of our family members in our lives—more than we don't want them there.
It requires us to communicate our intention to love, acknowledge the pain we may have caused, and doggedly display an openness to a renewed relationship. It requires us to clear the blockages and freely give what we have previously been withholding due to the accumulation of hurts; hurts that have benefited no one.
The way I see it is this: I may have other friends in my life, but I don't have enough if I don’t have my family. I may think differently to my family, but that enriches my life rather than diminishes it. I may not make the same choices as my brother, my uncle, my cousin, but who am I to tell them how to live their lives? I may believe differently to most, but that is a source of wonder and respect, not a source of criticism, angst or sorrow.
We can choose to be kind, to be interested, to be positive, to be a light to others, to let them be themselves without requiring them to change. We can choose NOT to take offence, not to focus on our past, and not find things that confirm past hurts. We are the masters of that destiny!
It rests with us. It rest with us deciding that we will be kinder, more generous, more tolerant. That, I promise you, will get you a different kind of Christmas this year. One that has the chance of growing into a thing of beauty.