The Secret to Harmonious Holidays with Foul Family
by Kim Sorrelle
Oh, the holidays—stuffed turkey, pumpkin pie, green bean casserole, and your annoying brother-in-law.
Every family seems to have one, a person who is more indigestible than Aunt Mildred’s mincemeat pie. He’s on the wrong side of every issue: vaccines, masks, climate change, defunding the police, systemic racism, the healthcare system, everything. And talk about conspiracy theories. His beliefs are the opposite of yours on every single one. Such a closed mind, he never listens to reason, facts, or figures. He thinks he knows it all. As soon as you make a well-delivered point, he counterpoints you with nonsense. The TV gets louder as his volume increases. You both ignore the pleadings of your spouses to change the subject. Faces turn red, arms start flailing, and before you know it, one of you hollers, “Kids, get your coats!”
Another Christmas and some leftovers down the drain.
Going into the day, you promise yourself not to respond, stay calm, ignore him if he brings up any touchy subjects. But is it wrong to want to enlighten him, show him the truth? Isn’t it the truth that sets you free? Why does he have to be so uneducated and obstinate? If he would listen to reason, you’d get along fine. He’s a decent guy, just so in the dark about everything. Is there a way to stop the cycle and stay for a piece of grandma’s famous apple pie?
Yes. Love. I know what you are thinking, “Yeah, yeah. We’re supposed to love everybody, blah, blah, blah.” But what’s love got to do with it?
After dedicating a year to figure out the true meaning of love, the kind of love that God has for us and wants us to have for each other, I uncovered some simple truths that can keep the turkey from turning foul.
Paul, pointing out that there wasn’t much love, the right kind of love, going around in Corinth, wrote a list of the is and isn’ts of love. There are fourteen of them. Love is patient. Love is kind; it does not envy, etc. We’ve all heard it before, mostly at weddings. Who knew that gems hidden in the lines could change your heart and change your life forever? Putting even one or two of those gems in your pocket increases the odds of the mashed potatoes staying on the table and off the walls.
For instance, love does not boast. Who does? It’s alright to talk about your promotion at work or your daughter making the dean’s list. That’s not boasting, unless it is. Boasting puts you above everyone else. If someone talks about their new car, knowing that the listener can’t afford a new bike, let alone a new car, making them feel inadequate, that is boasting. When someone states their opinions as facts, indicating that anyone with a differing opinion is ignorant, that is boasting. Believing that you have the monopoly on all truth puts anyone who doesn’t agree beneath you, that is boasting. Love doesn’t do that. Love that doesn’t boast knows we are all equal, all created in God’s image. We all have our feet on the same ground; we are at the same level. Love that doesn’t boast does not see the person with different beliefs, cultures, or anything else as inferior, simply different. Maybe, just maybe, that guy isn’t wrong about everything. Besides, you don’t control what anyone believes. You do control the love you give.
Love is kind. Of course, you are kind; most everyone is kind. Putting “love is” in front of kind takes it to a different level. Kind love acts kindly, does kind things, says kind things without expectation of receiving anything in return. Zero. Nothing. Nada. Not a thank you, not a reciprocal birthday gift or casserole, nothing. You are kind because love is. It doesn’t matter that the other guy isn’t returning the favor. Love is up to you.
This year, look forward to time with the family, all of them. Know that you are not levitating above the rest; stay grounded. If you disagree with something said, wait a minute before you answer. Respond if you want, but do it in kind love that doesn’t boast. Remember that God loves him as much as He loves you. Let your love stop the conversation from becoming a confrontation even if you receive no love in return. Funny, isn’t it, how God loved us long before we loved Him?
Living and giving love that doesn’t boast and kind love will keep the holidays jolly and the antacids in the medicine cabinet.
Kim Sorrelle, writer, entrepreneur, and director of a non-profit organization, devoted a year to finding love’s true meaning. Her book, Love Is: A Year-Long Experiment Living Out 1 Corinthians 13 Love, chronicles her sometimes funny, sometimes scary, always enlightening journey that led to life-changing discoveries found mostly on the streets of Haiti.
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