I find it funny how many people hate this time of year. Sometimes I count myself among them, and I think I have pretty good reasons. You might pick the obvious reason, and that’s because I lost my mom almost four years ago. My Christmases just have not been the same since then. They’re still good. I still really enjoy spending time with my extended family (namely my dad’s brother John and his family). I love seeing them, but it always seems there is someone missing, and that someone is my mother. There is a hole that can never get filled. I understand that part of hating Christmas.
But more than that, it’s the family drama. There is some in my life. And I think that is more of the reason why I find myself in the worst of my Scrooge moments this time of year. In my life it’s the stuff that goes unsaid that always kills me. So and so has a grudge and won’t say why. (Those of you who know me well can probably guess who so and so is.) So and so has a grudge and won’t forgive me for what I don’t know I did. It’s frustrating, but in the end there is nothing much to do but put up with it.
Sometimes I feel as though whatever I do in this case it’s the wrong thing. And that can throw me into a very bitter state. Again, turning myself into a Scrooge. But that’s when I have to stop myself. I see firsthand what happens when the bitterness takes over your life. On a daily basis I see this, and it’s not a pretty picture. I don’t want to become that. And while it may do very little to change this situation, I realize I need to stop holding grudges in return for the grudges held against me. Because I see what it’s done to so and so, and I don’t want to be like that.
I need to forget the drama and remember the love (as the card I gave my cousin for her wedding said…) Because despite the fact that I have always had a pretty messed up relationship with this person, and most of the time I don’t like them very much, since they’re family, I do, in my own way, love them. I have to remind myself of this on a daily basis, as often as I’m tempted to be bitter and angry about it. And I guess that’s why I love the song “7×70”. I was listening to it earlier, and having heard the story behind it (Chris August’s less than stellar childhood in a family damaged by divorce), I realized that people can get over the hurts that their families inflict on them.
It was kind of a revelation to me. I don’t have to be bitter. I don’t have to sit around hating people for sneezing the wrong way or placing the soap on the wrong side of the vanity. There is a better way, and that is to forgive. Forgive as many times as needed in order to keep myself from becoming less than human. Forgive enough to keep loving that person, even if I don’t always like them. Forgive enough to stop hating the family drama that usually comes up this time of year, even when so and so fails to make an appearance.
So this Christmas season, I plan on forgiving 7 x 70 times if that’s what it takes. And in doing so, I not only show love to someone who desperately needs it, I keep myself from going down that path to bitterness.