Opinion: Avoiding Christmas conflict…

Faith in Waipa

By Tessa Guest

Christmas is just a few short weeks away, can you believe it?

The anticipation of treasured times with family, amongst feasts and presents is rising, and many of us spend evenings watching films that depict these beautiful family moments.

But as we approach the special day, it’s easy to forget the difficulties that can come with everyone being in the room together, and the tensions that must be revisited in the holiday season every year.

An often strange mix of people tied together by blood return to one household from the different places they reside, bringing different experiences and views of the world. It’s no surprise that fiery arguments are lit, even in the special season.

It’s funny to me that at the centre of this hurricane that Christmas can be is the very epitome of peace: the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Whether you celebrate this or not in the holiday season, there’s something to be taken from this story: in a world of chaos, it’s possible to be a calm, contemplative presence.

If the familial tensions I’ve mentioned sound familiar, consider some of these ideas for a peaceful Christmas: First, listen to your loved ones. Really listen. Hear and understand their thoughts, hold them in your mind with respect, and don’t rush to counter their thoughts. Sit with disagreements and know that it’s ok to have different perspectives.

I think we’re very uncomfortable with disagreeing in New Zealand, which often results in avoidance of honest conversation, or the kind of fiery debates I’ve mentioned. This is an unhealthy way to communicate, and there’s no better time to practice healthy disagreement than Christmas.

Secondly, look inside. Notice your reactions and visualise your emotions before you externalise them. Ask yourself if it’s worth the conflict to make a fuss. Maybe this contradicts my earlier point about sitting in disagreement, but there are times to acknowledge disagreement, and times to put harmony above the need to be ‘right’.

And finally, be patient, and have empathy. Even within family, when we’ve spent large portions of our lives together, we all miscommunicate frequently. It’s impossible to read other people’s minds, yet so many of our social rules are unspoken. So, try to understand where your family members are coming from, and what they bring to the situation. There’s always more going on below the surface, even for the people we’re closest to.

I hope these ideas for peace prove helpful. Sending blessings to your family – let’s love better this Christmas.

Tessa Guest is a student in Wellington who attends Blueprint, an Anglican young adults’ church that meets in the city.

 

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