This was my response upon learning that my parents and sister broke a 40-year tradition of eating Thanksgiving dinner together this year. The reason? Two weeks before the holiday, my sister suggested chili as the main dish in lieu of turkey. This suggestion left my parents befuddled. Depending on whose account of the conversation you are presently enduring, potato salad made the chopping block too. In the end, the proposed menu changes and ensuing arguments angered them all, and the decision was made to spend Thanksgiving apart. They live across the street from one another.
Needless to say, holidays with extended family can be tricky. They may be loaded with expectations or riddled with baggage. Minor annoyances become major offenses when unforgiveness festers from years of unresolved conflict. 1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sin.” Love covered a multitude of sin in no greater way than at the cross. While we were still sinners, Christ did for us (Romans 5:8). This was a demonstration of God’s love; we are, above all, deeply loved by Him. Because we have been sacrificially loved and radically forgiven, we have the ability to cover a multitude of sin with our love.
No doubt, there will be opportunities this holiday season to be annoyed, offended, and sinned against. Someone may frustrate, embarrass, or hurt you. Here are a few tips to prepare you for the battle. First, it helps me to remember that I, too, relationally sin against other people, so I never have high ground on which to elevate myself. This truth humbles me when I believe it. Second, it helps to anticipate opportunities to forgive and extend grace. If I expect disappointment, I’m not surprised by it. I’m better prepared to avoid defensiveness and disarm potential conflict if I’m prepared for battle. Three, because of Christ in me, I desire to love others well independent of their care for me, and the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in me. If this power can raise the dead, I trust it can manage to love a disagreeable family member.
Jesus often found himself in a mixed bag of company while celebrating festivals and holidays. You will too. May He give us eyes to see, hearts to feel, and courage to move toward others this Christmas with love!