You know how it goes in families at Christmas. Last year everyone came to your house….all the aunts and uncles with their kids, and someone brought grandma. Well, this year it’s going to be at Cranky Uncle Fred’s house.
You can just hear your kids singing in the back seat as you drive through poorly plowed snow covered streets and across ribbons of icy roads: “Over the river and through the woods to Cranky Uncle Fred’s house we go. The horse know the way…”
The thought of how it will go once you get there is driving you nuts. Sending up a prayer helps, but then your mind runs right over a cliff again. It’s not only Cranky Uncle Frank who has you worried. He’s actually the least of it. Your sister’s new husband drinks too much and you really don’t want your kids to see him drunk on Jesus’ birthday. And cousin Marcy has a real bad habit of talking in detail about her love life, which as far as you can tell has very little to do with love. Another thing you’re not thrilled about exposing your kids to. This brigs your unbridled mind to another musical reference, almost against your will…the infamous country western Christmas song by Robert Earl Keene, “Merry Christmas from the Family.”
After giving yourself yet another good talking to, you admit the only one you should have high expectations of is yourself. And it goes without saying, you should be all prayed up. If your family isn’t a Norman Rockwell portrait, don’t have your Christmas happiness depend upon them acting as if they are. Accept them with all their faults, and some of your kin might have many.
Focus on the people there you love to be with, and don’t put yourself down if you don’t love to be with all of them. Make sure you get lots of time with the people there who thrill you. If you know Aunt Edna’s social, political, and theological views are going to drive you insane, try to direct conversation to something neutral. Have a mental list of topics all prepared. Praising how good the food is will make everyone who prepared a dish feel all warm and fuzzy inside and good feelings often can spread to others. Above all, avoid strife. Pull out the old stand-by, “Let’s agree to disagree.”
If someone at the table is trying to stick to their diet, encourage them to do so and praise them for their effort. Don’t pass the coconut cake, followed by the pecan pie past Cousin Latrice, who is diabetic.
Okay, so let’s talk about alcohol. Someone who drinks too much can not only wreck the entire family Christmas celebration, but can kill themselves and others if they drive. It does absolutely no good too confront the individual, calling him/her an alcoholic. This is Christmas with the family, not a therapeutic intervention. Even if it seems impolite or not your place, it is perfectly acceptable to remove the alcohol, even pour it down the drain if necessary. Do it as inconspicuously as possible, but it’s far better to get rid of the booze than to face a tragedy later. If this is a serous recurring problem with one family member, the other members of the family might decide to have an alcohol-free Christmas. It might be the best Christmas you’ve had in years.
Try to do your part in the family celebration. If tradition is important in your family, go with the flow. Relax, then relax some more. Look for the joy in the celebration. Find something to smile about, laugh about. Delight in the Children. Christmas is magical to them. Catch the feeling from them. And above all, remember the reason for the season, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Luke 2:9-11 King James Version (KJV)
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.