“For-gift-ness: The Gift Everyone Needs Year Round!
(Published initially on http://www.Livingbetterat50.com Nov. 2012)
by Holly LaChappell
The Holidays are almost upon us. What are your family dynamics? Emotions can run high and getting together with extended and immediate family can create stress, dreg up a lot of emotions and hard memories of holidays past.
What if we started our gift giving early? What if you gave the generous gift of “for-gift-ness” (forgiveness) before you got together for the festivities? Could there be a change in your attitude and also possibly in the attitude for who you are praying and forgiving? I believe so! Think about what has bothered you about a certain person’s behavior, their words and their facial expressions. Pray, asking God to help you forgive them. Pray, Lord help me to let go of the past hurts and embrace your love and acceptance for me and the person I am trying to forgive.
Some forgiveness tips: remember no one has lived a perfect childhood or life. Things have happened in our past to shape us into the person we are today. Many of us are responding out of a five year old’s body and mind, because when something traumatic happened to us, our bodies stored the memory. Your five year old self formed a defense mechanism (or survival mechanism) around the hurtful or traumatic experience. When your Aunt gives you a disapproving look, remember you are not five years old anymore! Your adult self can shrug it off and say, “Really? What’s the matter here?” and they will probably back down and say, “Nothing”. Or you can just choose to ignore the look that was probably not intended for you anyway! So much of how people respond is about them and how they are internalizing something. It’s not about you!
Tips for a more pleasurable Holiday experience: Pray, asking God for His outcome in the event. Try building rapport (again) with family members ahead of time by giving them a phone call or mailing them a postcard. Let them know the details of the day, mentioning a family walk, a game or they’ll have an opportunity during dinner to say what they are thankful for. I also have activities for the younger children such as coloring, simple crafts, books and games. Let them know you are looking forward to celebrating the Holidays with them.
Do let your family members have a say about what the menu will be and what they can bring to contribute to the meal. Everyone needs to feel a sense of control and a sense of security and belonging. Letting everyone know your expectations helps to minimize unfortunate surprises. Ask if they are bringing anyone else with them to dinner. Let your family members know what time they can come to help set up and what time dinner is served. I suggest keeping the dinner time as close as possible. If alcohol has been a past problem, I suggest opting for non-alcoholic drinks to help reduce quarreling and potential violence.
As the Hostess, you help set the tone of the Holiday. If you are uptight and anxious, you will put everyone else on edge. Remember the reason you are gathering together in the first place: to celebrate God’s provision and His 10,000+ blessings! At Christmas, we celebrate the most important gift we have ever received: Jesus! His love and forgiveness is the gift that keeps on giving! Knowing He is with us gives us peace and contentment. We are anchored in His love no matter how our families act! Ps. 16:11 “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence.” Let the “for-gift-ness” begin! Merry Christmas!