The holidays - a special time of celebration and festivities! Then why so often are they colored with strain in relationships, disappointment, and even heartache? I think it's primarily because of a couple of reasons.
One reason is because traditionally it's a time to get together with family members...all of them...most of them...often with some you see only once a year, and may even have unresolved issues with.
The second reason for relationship strain during the holidays is because there are probably at least one or two relatives who have strongly held beliefs about how or where the holidays should be spent. Usually these strong beliefs are held by strong people. So, you have butting heads, or maybe manipulation behind the scenes, often without conscious intention. Just strong beliefs that their ideas are 'right' or 'how things should be.'
All of this is only exacerbated when you add in the in-law element. Now, you not only have differences from within, but from 'without.' However, if there is love and caring on the parts of the family members, in time these differences can (and should) give way to give-and-takes, and instead of two or more differing 'ways', an entirely new way can emerge that is better than each of the old ways. Of course, this involves change and well, as the saying goes, "I'm all for change - you go first!"
If family members want relationship in the larger context then what needs to happen is the same process, if you will, that a bride and groom go through in becoming one, only on a different and lesser scale. Everyone who's been married knows that becoming one doesn't happen automatically. And so it is with relatives. Two families, four families, six families being joined together because of marriage will definately have things to work out if there's to be relationship, but it can happen if every one can get out of the way.
Okay, enough theorizing. It's the practicals that get us from where we are to where we want and need to be. I'm learning this simple principle: either the event or idea will come first, or people and relationship will. Each person involved has to decided which is most important. Hopefully people and relationship will be the choice! This will, however, require some 'dying' on each person's part. Dying to traditions, desires, perspectives. Bottom line, if you want to have relationship with the people in your family, you will have to lay down your life in one way or another. And hopefully it will be mutual.
I know in the real world there will always be those who stubbornly want things their way, period. And well, everyone else then has to decide how they will respond in such situations. But, since the holidays are about being thankful and giving, they can find an even higher expression with those who perhaps may not express them back to you...at all.
Why would you do that? Because that's what love would do, and one of the 'fruits' of love is liberty for the giver. Weighed against selfishness, which always carries with it some kind of personal bondage, it is definately the wisest choice.
Isn't this what Scrooge learned?
© Sharon Hughes 2009