“O-o-o Christmastime… We’ll all be fine in a week or two,” is part of the lyric of our daughter-in-law, JJ’s, new song Christmastime. “Wasn’t it just July?” she sings, “I was alone in my room without a cousin in sight.” This is the time of year when families get together only to find out that nobody has changed and that their expectations of a joyful reunion were about as realistic as a second virgin birth.
What can help you make the holidays work? How can you spend time with relatives and not be let down? Every year, my family congregates in Florida for a week with the Heller clan at Thanksgiving. My siblings and I are very diverse in terms of our values, politics, and even where we live… Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and New York.
How do we, the Hellers from Phoenix, spend a week in close quarters with relatives who will argue passionately and articulately for viewpoints nearly the opposite of our own?
First, we recognize that they do not know Jesus as their Lord. We’ve learned to not take personally what feel like attacks on us, even though they’re painful at times. Many of my family members’ opinions are simply an outgrowth of their condition as “natural” men and women (not knowing the Lord).
Second, Pauly and I have committed to stay connected with our families to be examples to them of God’s Truth, even when it is not comfortable, and to love them with the love of the Lord.
Third, we pray a lot before we go. And we get others to pray for us, too.
Fourth, we try to look at what is good about being together and not focus on the differences that could drive us all apart.
How will you deal with your family this holiday season? We suggest asking the Lord to help you make the best of it, and thanking Him that you have family to get together with, even telling them how much you love them (no matter how dysfunctional they may be). You may need to establish boundaries with certain family members. Or you may need to just “hang in there” and look for God’s purpose for you to be with them. Perhaps God has put you where you are to be used by Him in their lives.
May He use you and bless you this year with your family. And may you major on those things you agree on rather than those things you differ on.