Christmas is a time of joy and peace and goodwill. Right?
Honestly, most of us have experienced a Christmas celebration that included, at no extra cost, some snark. Some disappointment. Some ill will. And that’s just the dog.
Odds are the people in your life, can, on a truly bad day, out-snark even the most curmudgeonly canine. Add in all the other moving parts, and keeping the merry in Christmas can challenge even the most closely-knit families.
To help you , I’m offering you Sheila’s Secrets to a Merry Christmas.
I suggest you read them over and carry a copy with you from now until New Year’s Day.
Think of this list as the invisible umbrella that prevents people from peeing in your punchbowl.
- Be a desnarkifier. When your sister-in-law greets you with an air-kiss and exclaims That jacket is just as pretty on you as it was last year, smile and say It’s my favorite color.
- Remember: the food is fabulous! Be extravagant in your praise of the meal. Someone worked hard to buy it and prepare it–or, at least, to unwrap it and nuke it. Unless you’re being served turkey tartare with a side of ptomaine, it’s time to buck up. Now, you needn’t say this haggis is fabulous unless you truly love the haggis. But you could say the table is beautiful or the butter is so creamy or green beans are my favorite or any other compliment related to the food you’ve been offered. The trick is to find something true and then say that true thing.
- Be baitproof. If somebody in the family always manages to get your goat, then leave your goat at home. Should that somebody (or anybody) start down a conversational road that ends in a barbed-wire zinger, look him in the eye, smile, nod, and walk away.
- Suffer the little children. Here’s the deal: happy kids make a racket. And we all want our kids/grandkids/nieces and nephews to be happy on Christmas, right? Now, if they’re staging footraces that bring them perilously close to Uncle Dirk’s cherished collection of Gila polychrome, you may need to take action. Bribing them with candy is a terrific strategy, especially if they’re not sleeping at your house. Let someone else deal with their sugar high.
- Leave your cape, tights, and mask at home. Regardless of what you may have been told, you can’t do it all. Especially in holiday traffic. If you’ve been blessed with a laundry list of invitations, choose one or two that pluck at your heartstrings. And the rest? Memorize this response: I’m so sorry. We have another commitment. Could we get together on Sunday/in the new year/after Jesus returns? After all, Christmas has twelve days for a reason.
- Turn from the truly toxic. For most of us, holiday challenges stem from socially clumsy loved ones. For some folks, however, a few branches of the family tree harbor intentionally hurtful and cruel relatives. Here’s the deal: You must love those people. You must pray for those people. But you are not required to sit on their sofa. Reflect on the situation and then choose the healthiest option for you and your family.
Whatever the holidays hold in store, wring the peace from it and remember: We are celebrating the birth of our Savior. Nobody, but nobody, can unring that bell.
Wishing you and yours a merry, merry Christmas and a joyous new year.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)
Please join us.