With the Christmas holiday and many others just around the corner, I thought it appropriate to follow-up my Thanksgiving Survival Guide with a part two installment.
The truth is, the holidays should be filled with family and togetherness. Unfortunately for many, the holidays are tough due to strain and stress within the family.
This holiday season, I’m inviting you to accept the reality that families and people are imperfect. I’m also inviting you to forgive and to lend the benefit of the doubt to those with whom you have a quarrel. Not long ago, a woman came to me upset about the relationship she had with her father, and while I could have delved into all that her father had missed or mishandled over the years, I simply told her to try to forgive him. As children, we believe our parents are infallible in many ways, and this simply isn’t true. In fact, most imperfect people make terribly imperfect parents, and sometimes the more they fail the more they lash out or withdraw. Being a parent is difficult, and many people simply lack the skills to be effective parents. Maybe this holiday we should see our parents for who they really are, people who love us despite their shortcomings.
Now, I’m not suggesting that children of violent parents or abused children follow my advice. I don’t have the training to properly advise those folks. I’m sorry. For those of you who went through something terrible as child, I would like to encourage you to create your own family – finding people that see the wonder in who you are and see past the walls you erect to keep the world out. Instead of becoming an island unto yourself, try trusting someone who earns the chance to be trusted. You may very well like the results.
Finally, if you know you’re going to see relatives that you just don’t like and can’t understand, try writing down all the things you dislike about the person. Maybe even attach a story to each dislike as proof of your assessment. Call or visit a friend and talk out each terrible attribute in detail. Have fun with it. Encourage your friend to do the same. Get it out of your system, so you can go have a wonderful holiday with family. Take a full measure of grace with you, accept people for who they are, and offer up nostalgic memories to bring the family back to shared happiness. When you feel your losing control, start the next sentence with, “remember when…”
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.