Three suggestions for Christmas family gatherings.
In just a few days, Christmas will be here. One week from today. This weekend, many will be in the middle of family gatherings. For many of us, Christmas is a time for a large family meal complete with turkey, dressing, and ham. Along with the meal will be cousins, uncles, and in-laws. Lots of conversations. Lots of time — together.
This can all be wonderful. It can also be very stressful. Some families arrive at their destination excited and full of anticipation only to leave frustrated. The following are a few suggestions that may be helpful when you are at these gatherings.
1. Make it count. This may be the only time during the year that you will see some of these people. Far too many people get overly focused on the obnoxious uncle or that sister-in-law. Instead of getting overly focused on these people, consider those with whom you rarely visit. Consider those who just might enjoy a brief conversation with you.
2. Leave them better. I remember seeing a sign in a park once. "Please leave the picnic area better than you found it." Now I like that. God can use me to leave people better off than when I found them.
- Point out the good in someone. Look for the good in others. Believe me, there are always people in every situation who are doing just the opposite.
- Sincerely compliment. Sincere compliments can be very encouraging.
- Look for opportunities to express gratitude. Gracious people understand that everything they experience is by grace. It is so important to receive Christmas gifts with graciousness. How sad when someone receives a gift and chooses to complain.
- When possible, elevate conversations instead of bringing people down. Some families get together and actually spend their time telling stories that humiliate other family members. Most families have funny stories that could be told. Funny stories are wonderful. However, stories that cause other family members to feel exposed and humiliated might get a laugh — but at someone else’s expense. Why tell a story that will only cause someone to feel stupid in front of other family members? This Christmas, why not tell a few stories about wonderful, encouraging, service-oriented moments in others’ lives.
3. Let it go. Expect to overlook some things. Some things are just not worth it. Try not to make a big deal about things that are not big deals. Some things are big deals. Pray about those. Consider whether or not God might be calling you to forgive someone this Christmas.