I’m guessing it’s the natural law of opposition that causes relationships to fester in the Christmas season, a designated time for spirit and love.
Headlines report each year on the resentment against public evidence of the Christian Christmas and efforts to eliminate them all. But, truth is, many of us are guilty of crushing the Christmas spirit with no help from anti-Christmas crusaders.
Wandering through a big-box store this past week, I repeatedly overheard conversations about challenges going on in people’s lives. All of them were relationship related.
“I just can’t talk with her anymore,” one woman told her female companion. “I try to be kind, she said, but I’m “done.” Another: “Why is it always so hard?” a woman, with a teenage girl asked. “We just can’t seem to get along.”
Listening is one way I manage to survive the distress of crowds. And, this year, eavesdropping was especially revealing. Holiday debates are notorious over who should come to dinner and who should not be invited. There’s the arguing over what should be served, and then there’s always money. But, really, it’s mostly about hurt feelings, bad behavior and childhood sorrows. Sometimes it’s even about the funny uncle with wandering hands.
And, epidemic divorces force multiple family celebrations on the kids. Parents and step-parents fumble to make it work. Hostility is ever present.
Perhaps you too have a story about serving on Christmas party committees. One experience still remains a traumatic memory. Two women decided we definitely needed to have a party — that it would be good for everyone. However, once we began the process, they didn’t like how it was being organized, or where it would be held, or who was coming or what to serve. Though it was agreed it would be a progressive party, using several of their homes, it soon became an issue about having people “tromp” through “my house” and moving furniture that would then leave compressed holes in the carpet. Feelings flared. Tears were shed; words became ugly.
By this time, the guests were invited, the day was near. There was no backing out. One person insisted she pay for the entire thing, due to carping by others over the extra guests. It was deadly and even though the party was exceptional, relationships are wounded.
We hear traditional Christmas music; tunes reminding us of Christ, “the reason for the season,” plus nativity scenes offer visual reminders. So why is this time of year such a trial?
God’s children are such slow learners no wonder The Good Book is exhaustingly repetitious over subjects such as loving our neighbors, forgiveness, repentance, and the precious nature of children. Its warnings about materialism and the importance of remaining focused on what matters, what really feeds the soul, appear unheeded by most.
Money’s short for most of us, which gives us an opportunity to give the best gifts of all; words that nurture and generous selflessness. Don’t forget a sleigh full of forgiveness. By the time this goes to print, the holiday will be nearly spent, but we can do humanity, our families and our lives a huge favor by changing ourselves.
Isn’t that message one of the great gifts the Christ child brought with Him? In his short life He showed by example how good relationships can be; his tolerance of human differences incomprehensible.
We all say we want peace on earth. It won’t happen without individual change. Christians are foolish to be upset with non-believers, when they themselves don’t reach higher and reflect the message of the season. Just something to think about as 2012 hopefully gives us still another chance.
East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen (email@example.com) is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor.