2:37 PM EST, December 23, 2010
Perhaps more so than any other time of year, Christmas Eve is a time of expectation. We look forward to spending time with the people we love. We want to see their expressions as they open the gifts we have carefully chosen.
For families who will open gifts tomorrow morning, this night is a time of quiet reflection. There is much to contemplate.
Have I been generous enough? Did I spend too much? Do I have gifts for everyone on my list?
Will everyone get along tomorrow?
Hmmm ... for many families, that last question is a loaded one.
Yet consider for a moment that the answer lies within each one of us.
When it comes to our family members, we have a choice to make.
If we choose in advance to respond kindly to any comments that come our way, the day will go so much better.
To show love, family members should think the best of each other. Love assumes that intentions are honorable.
A wise mother once told me, "When you love someone, you overlook their faults."
Time and again I've seen her give others the benefit of the doubt.
What a legacy to leave — always thinking the best of those you love.
What will your legacy be? One of patient kindness or one of heated reactions?
I equate holidays with the end of a hard day at school. After spending several hours with teens who have figured out which buttons to push and when to push them, I am sometimes tempted to lean toward the negative. My students' innocent antics become irritants. Then I react and fuss them when silence would have been golden.
Yes, holidays are much the same. An occasion that has taken weeks of preparation is over in a matter of minutes. Fatigue sets in as a feeling of letdown permeates the atmosphere, and that's when the potential bickering starts.
Past hurts are remembered, and the baggage that has been carried through the years comes out yet again.
It's just hard to let go of the past.
Why are we hesitant to forgive? I think it's because we have been taught to play by the rules, to be fair, to seek justice.
When someone else doesn't play by the rules, isn't fair and is unjust, we become indignant. We want the other person to realize what has been done, to make restitution for a wrong. It's especially difficult when the other person is a family member. Isn't blood supposed to be thicker than water?
We tend to be hardest on those closest to us, forgetting that a lack of forgiveness mainly harms the person with an unforgiving heart.
Letting go of hurt is a healing balm.
So, let's say there's a relative who has worked his way under your skin. Choose in advance not to let him bother you this year.
Avoid reacting, let love prevail, and have a very Merry Christmas.
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