During the Christmas season, the joy of family life is revisited and relived again. We are happy to see loved ones especially those who we do not see often during the year. This is the “miracle” of Christmas, coming together to celebrate as one family— but to be fair— not everyone would agree that seeing relatives is a “miracle” full of joy.
For some, Christmas is a time of forced obligations. We must buy gifts, host a party, cook big crazy meals that will never get finished, but the worst obligation is having to put up with so and so during the celebrations: you know, the one we really don’t like and who did something long ago that still bugs and hurts even today or the person who just has the most irritating comments or such and such; regardless, it’s the person we just try to avoid — yes that person!
Unfortunately, this is a common part of the Christmas holiday experience; so much so that I don’t think it would be a generalization for me to suggest that every family has someone they just have to put up with during this season.
I’m writing about this topic in hopes that we see this as a real problem in family life and to suggest a small step by step reflection as an effort for change even if only a change in point of view so as to make more accessible the real experience of joy that the miracle of Christmas brings.
A real problem
The first step is to accept that there is a real problem in your relationship with him or her. Obviously, there is an awkward discomfort, but if you are to say that it is not a problem because it is only a small degree of discomfort, then you are only fooling yourself. This is a real problem regardless of the degree of discomfort experienced when seeing the person. The mere fact that there is an awkwardness and discomfort as a result of seeing the person is a sign of something wrong in the relationship. We should not sugar coat the problem or hide it.
What is the problem?
What is it that really hurts you about this person? Is it something they did?
When did this happen?
If you say a few years ago or even a few months ago, then don’t you think this has been going on for far too long now? Obviously, I can’t answer this for you nor am I suggesting any judgment on the circumstances I have no right to know about, but you know. You know the circumstances that hold back love between you and this person.
Be honest with yourself.
Is it really the other person? Is it only the other person’s fault? Are you at fault? Take the time and effort to search for the true and honest answer. Furthermore, did you contribute to the undesirable circumstances which you find yourself in with this person by gossiping about the story, by lying about the story to others to make yourself look better and the other person the one at fault? Hopefully, we find ourselves without any fault after an honest examination of conscience. If so, the last question to ask is what efforts have we tried to reconcile with this person?
I hope that at the end of these small questions, there is clarity of the past and a desire for peace and healing.
The joy of Christmas is not in gifts, nor in food, nor is it completely in gathering with loved ones. The joy of Christmas is in reconciliation and forgiveness. God came to a world full of people who did not love Him, who were not ready to take Him into their homes and into their hearts. The joy of Christmas is that in these circumstances He decided to forgive them and love them. We rejoice because He came to forgive us. Are we not called to do the same?