A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

The Holidays and the Ties That Bind

Posted on: December 22, 2014

As I sat down to write this post, the title of an Erma Bombeck book popped into my mind: Family—The Ties That Bind…and Gag!

I could be talking about members of our church family we don’t get along with, but that might be a post for another day. In this case, I’m talking about family members we spend time with over the holidays.

Maybe we have a mother who pushes food on us when we’re trying to lose weight, a sibling who can’t let go of the rivalry, an aunt who always asks when we’re going to get married or have children, or in-laws who criticize the way we’re raising our family.

Or maybe we find it stressful to spend much of the holidays, or even just Christmas dinner, in close quarters with our extended family—and maybe it’s partly because of the way we view their words and actions.

This weekend, I read a wonderful quote from The Imitation of Christ in the “Celebrate December 2014” column of Catholic Digest:

Endeavour to be patient in bearing the defects and infirmities of others of whatever kind; for you also have many things which others must bear with.

Isn’t that the truth! We focus so much on the things that bother us about other people that we can easily forget we might be annoying them, too.

Maybe we won’t let anyone else help with Christmas dinner because they won’t make things the way we would—and then we complain about how much work it is. Or we insist on doing all the decorating ourselves instead of sharing the fun. Or we don’t leave room for our spouse’s family traditions. Or we exchange many of the presents we receive.

playful housecat

My “picture perfect” holiday includes cats that “help” tidy up the gift wrap…

Instead of striving for a holiday celebration that will “nearly be like a picture print by Currier and Ives,” as we hear about in “Sleigh Ride,” we need to remember that we’re all human, all flawed, and all in need of forgiveness. We need to be patient with one another and grateful that we’re still here to spend another Christmas together.

I pray that we would look past others’ faults and that they would look past ours so that we don’t miss out on the joys of celebrating Christmas.

I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and all the best in 2015.

And speaking of the new year, I’m taking a short break from this blog to spend time with my family over the holidays, but I’ll be back with another post on January 5th.



Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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