“Heaven attains wholeness with its clarity;
The Earth attains wholeness with its firmness;
The Spirit attains wholeness with its transcendence…
If Heaven lacked clarity it would be divided;
If the Earth lacked firmness it would fly away;
If the Spirit lacked transcendence it would be exhausted.”
— Lao Tzu
Contemplating the Heavens and the Earth, sadly, is not a typical holiday activity. Not many of us sit around the Thanksgiving table chit chatting about the balanced purity of the universe. It is much more common, though not actually discussed much, the human spirit gets a lot of attention.
All too often our spirits seem drained after extended visits with our families. Every family gathering has some level of baggage, personality conflict, that one weird uncle (Hi Eli!), and at least two bottles of wine that shouldn’t have been opened. And every family gathering has some level of built up resentment, things long left unsaid, and the apparent inability to admit wrongdoing or accept defeat. But every family gathering also has… a family. It would serve us all well to try very hard not to forget this fact.
Just before Thanksgiving, my wife sent me a link to something Amy Seiffert wrote called 5 Ways To Have Awesome Holidays. We had just seen Amy speak at a parenting event at our church, and she was just wonderful! This little article was equally marvelous, and incredibly inspiring, though admittedly not without delay. It’s so great, I’m not even going to try paraphrasing anything. In fact, here…
Now, I truly believe that most folks intend to do at least one or two of these things. It just ends up getting more and more difficult to remember it’s not all about you when someone else has trouble owning their cup. Undoubtedly, this goes both ways, which you will discover upon eating the last piece of pumpkin pie because “Amy Seiffert said to eat all the pie!” So then an angry family member writes Amy Seiffert an email about what a jerk you were and Amy replies “Hey, I specifically said NOT to eat the pumpkin. Was it the pumpkin? Yeah? Then he deserves all that’s coming to him. You go, girl!” Or something to that effect.
Jokes aside, not paying attention to how our family members feel (about pumpkin pie or anything else) is a huge problem during the holidays. And then if there’s some sort of argument or misunderstanding, many of us have trouble owning our own parts in them. We tend to forget that our attitudes are contagious, and if we come in all huffy-puffy, we’re gonna infect the whole place like a nasty sneeze! This is just true, and you cannot deny that when our families are laughing and playing games and telling stories… we all feel a little more at home, even if we’re in an unfamiliar physical location.
So listen to Amy Seiffert (and my wife) and own your cup! Not only that, but bring one full of stories and smiles… and fellowship and grace. Because when spilled, those things won’t light the carpet on fire and burn down the house. Never forget this: You love your family, and your family loves you. Not all of us love the same way, but we should at the very least strive to do so LOUDLY.
Everyone, please have a safe and wonderful holiday season.