Monday, November 7, 2011

The Heart of Holiday Survival

I am your father, brother, sister, mother, cousin, uncle, aunt and friend. The holidays are here and you’re going to be spending time with me. We haven’t been around each other a great deal this year. But now we’re together, in one house, for a whole day, to catch up. Nothing may be as uncomfortable for you as that. Nothing may be quite as awful as spending time with somebody that I haven’t really gotten to know very well in a long while, Well, I have news for you: I feel the same way.

We’re all supposed to hang around and make small talk. Most of us are hoping the TV is on as a distraction. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we can get called into the kitchen to help prepare things and stay out of the social atmosphere, saving our conversation for dinner. But odds are that we’ll be sitting and standing around one another, not really knowing what to say past “So, how are things?” and “Really, how about that?”

I don’t want you to feel like you’re uncomfortable to be with me. I know that, in any family, things come up from the past. We can’t help but hold onto the feelings surrounding our history. But the attitude that comes forth from those feelings keeps us living in that history, not in the moment, not in the celebration of the day.

There were times within that history that were good. There were times that brought us together when we were young. They made us close and the kept us together. Those experiences joined our hearts together as family and friends. We still hold that connection. It is the foundation of that history that brings us here today.

Today, please look at me as I am, how I’ve softened over the years. In these eyes, see me as the person I was when we were both younger, both more free of the judgments and anger. I wish that no resentment cloud our vision of one another today.

Smile at me today, OK? I promise I’ll smile back. No sarcasm, no innuendo, nothing hurtful. I know that we may be different, but we come from the same place and have arrived at this time today under the guise of sharing a celebration with one another. The spirit of our enjoyment together begins with a smile.

Be interested in seeing me. It will relax me immediately. I won’t need my guard up, won’t need to be defensive. I can feel like it’s all right be the person I am today and still feel accepted regardless of all that has come before us. That interest you show will melt away years of anger and misunderstandings. It will begin a new chapter of our relationship.

Above all else, look at me-whomever I am in your family or circle of friends-as someone you have loved. Carry with you that love in your heart for me, as I will for you. Let all unpleasantness drift away. Through the spirit of sharing that love with one another, let us enjoy this time we have.

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