Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Dread

Merry Christmas ! Indeed, it is a wonderful time of the year. But, for some families the holidays bring around an anxiety producing environment; the holiday gathering with extended family. Unfortunately, a lot of families have some kind of dysfunction that sits at the table with us when we gather.

It could be a meddling in-law who uses the occasion as a platform to push their agenda. Also, the family's antagonist could be there, firing off one passive aggressive remark after another in the hopes of stirring up conflict.

Christians, we are indeed called to be loving. But, at the same time that does not mean we have to roll over and allow ourselves to be used as floor mats that get walked all over.

Titus 3: 10 & 11 tells us: "10As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."

The key to getting through a potentially difficult family gathering is to plan ahead. Don't just walk in with your guard down.

1. Remember, "All you have to be is POLITE." (I borrow that expression from Dr. Laura.). You don't have to gush & fall all over your cousin Eddie, the family creeper.

2. Enter the situation with a back up plan. Park in such away that you can make a quick escape, if needed. Talk things over with your spouse & kids about what to do if . . .

3. Location makes a big difference. If you go to someone's home for a family get together. You can usually extract yourself fairly quickly. On the downside, people are often good at being their "worst" in their home. It's their turf.

If you choose to host a get together at your home, some people may behave better when they don't have the "home field" advantage. But, you may have to face the awkward moment of needing to ask someone to leave. This could get very messy.

4. A safer option yet is to agree to participate in an event that is in a public setting, like a restaurant. Most people who have any degree of rationality left, are not likely to make an ugly scene in a public location. Here, you have maximum flexibility. you can bail out at any point. Plus, if someone behaves badly in public, it's on them not you.

Overall, the goal is to keep peace in your home. By that, I mean: you, your spouse and your children. My wife and I have always made a point to keep anyone who would make trouble for our immediate family at arms length.