The prospect of the holiday season can be a time of dread for many.
When we as adult children gather together with our parents, grandparents, siblings and our extended families, we can easily fall into old familiar patterns of behaviour. This is great if all that we express is unconditional love.
The reality is that many families fall into predictable maladaptive ways of relating year after year, decade after decade. The youngest sons and daughters remain the babies of their families even when they’re in their fifties. Aging parents can have trouble giving up a pattern of judging or controlling their grownup children, who may struggle still to make Mom or Dad proud of them.
The family tradition may consists of old arguments that are picked up just as we left them last year and the years before that. Old slights are not forgotten. We play favourites . . . and least favourites. Its like a game of Scrabble (or Squabble) with the letters left in the same place each year, or a puzzle with missing pieces we struggle to complete. In this game, we all lose in the end.
And though each of us sees ourselves as growing and evolving, other family members may not notice the difference; they can continue to see us and treat us like we were kids.
The best Christmas gift we can give one another is unconditional love – a love that is not dependent on being young, beautiful, smart, accomplished or perfect. And the most refreshing way to give it is to see each of our loved ones with an open heart, an open mind and open eyes.
Let go of the baggage of the past and all the preconceptions that prevent you from seeing everyone in your family as a whole person, ever growing and innately beautiful. Let’s look for and bring out the best in one another.
May our relationships – and our love for one another – continue to evolve . . . and grow as we grow.