Updated: Apr 6
Several years ago, one of our Christmas celebrations was derailed. An elderly person took offence when a younger family member challenged something the older person had said. I was brought into it by an emotional and tearful complaint by the elder. It did sound unfair from their point of view. However later on hearing the other side of the story, it was quite clear that what was originally said by the elder was quite discriminatory. Why are older people sometimes this way? Fear of the unknown.
How can we plan to prevent our Christmas events from ending up like this one? The key is in the planning – to have meaningful discussions about possible problems with personalities, older generational bias, on the part of the host. In other words knowing the triggers for the different members and allowing for those by open and honest discussions prior to the event. We discussed the older person after the event, and there was more understanding and compassion next time. Although it took a while.
Christmas is our season. This is the time to enjoy who we are, what we stand for, what we believe and show that to others. Those others might be your family members. They might have opinions that don’t gel with yours.
I have found a way to see the best in others is to have an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude has amazing biopsychosocial spiritual impacts on us with each one affecting the other. For example in a social environment with my loved ones when I’m grateful to them that impacts us and them physiologically, psychologically and of course brings us closer together – the social part. We need the spiritual to give us the power, the grace, love to love the unlovely. And to be grateful that we have people in our lives who bring special gifts, strength, even challenges for us to grow and be molded.
Christmas and another year, for some is a sad event – when we are separated from those we love due to bitterness, unforgiveness, word spoken that were hurtful and left hanging without any resolution stop by overriding these negative sentiments. Scientific research over 30 years suggests something can change relationships and it’s called positive sentiment override. So we overlook the negative and we consider and think about those things that are positive about that person. You might even begin to be grateful that this person was once in your life and for an optimistic tomorrow. To think this way is biblical.
Phillipians 4:8 says this:
‘…fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.’ NLT
Keep your thoughts on what is good, particularly if there is been a rough patch – there’s probably been many more good times so think about those.
And what do you do when you have to bring a difficult discussion to someone that you might have had some issues with before but you want Christmas to be the best ever well I couple of suggestions that I will be using that might be helpful for you. Firstly surrender control to God’s will he knows better than you and hi, how to approach this person with respect. Secondly when you have to bring a truth sandwich between grace, – so that it becomes grace truth grace.
It might go something like this if I was talking to a younger person prior to Christmas and preparation for the elderly person with firm thoughts on immigrants
Always love to have you around at Christmas time do you bring such fun to our gatherings. You know how this elderly person can be with their fears about others that she is concerned about. I understand your position. I tend to agree with your position. But for the sake of this older person who doesn’t have the advantages of insight that we have, perhaps we could avoid the topic or if it is brought up in a derogatory way the subject could be change rapidly. I think at the advanced age of this person it’s probably a bit difficult to teach this old dog some new tricks. For the sake of a great day, I would love your compassionate heart to avoid this one topic. What do you think? If you can I would appreciate this and I want to say thank you so much
Let’s have an amazing Christmas and New Year season this year – have those tricky conversations early and remember to bring Grace before the truth and then follow up with love and grace just like Jesus does with us.
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