Your mother in law may make all of those comments about your parenting that make you want to scream. Uncle so-and-so will insist you not turn on the heat in the house even though everyone is wearing a coat indoors. Cousin always-does-this won't help cook, serve, or clean a thing.
Insert your own complicated family dynamics and issues.
My family, while incredibly wonderful (on my husband's side and on my own side), still has a few little issues, just like everyone else. (Though, for the record, the above examples are not taken from my own family experiences, I promise.:)
In thinking about being together during the holidays and also the idea of we've-all-got-our-family-stuff-to-deal-with, I want to share some great tips from one of the Humble Handmaid's favorite saints.
Yes, you guessed it! I'm lovin' me some wise and wonderful St. Josemaria Escriva.
It is inevitable that you should feel the rub of other people's characters against your own. After all, you are not a gold coin that everyone likes. Besides, without that friction produced by contact with others, how would you ever lose those corners, those edges and projections — the imperfections and defects — of your character, and acquire the smooth and regular finish, the firm flexibility of charity, of perfection? If your character and the characters of those who live with you were soft and sweet like sponge-cake you would never become a saint. (The Way, #20)About 99% of the time, it's all small stuff. We get upset about things so trivial and petty in the long run that we would and should be mortified to have to explain these little situations all of a sudden to, say, one of the millions of people around the world who are dealing with the Big Stuff. Heck, to the person down the street dealing with the Big Stuff.
"Anyone who says he cannot put up with this or that, or finds it impossible to hold his peace, is exaggerating in order to justify himself. We should ask God for the strength to overcome our whims and to practise self-control." (Conversations, #108)
The defects you see in others are perhaps your own. Si oculus tuus fuerit simplex... — If your eye is clear, the whole of the body will be lit up; whereas if the eye is diseased, the whole of the body will be in darkness--Moreover: “How is it that you can see the speck of dust in your brother’s eye, and are not aware of the beam that is in your own?” Examine your conscience." (The Furrow, #328)
You say that he is full of defects! Very well... but, apart from the fact that people who are perfect are found only in Heaven, you too have defects, yet others put up with you and, what is more, appreciate you. That is because they love you with the love Jesus Christ had for his own, and they had a fair number of shortcomings. (The Furrow, #758)
"How I wish that your bearing and conversation were such that, on seeing or hearing you, people would say: This man reads the life of Jesus Christ." (The Way, #2).
Well, I take that back. It does matter in the grand scheme of eternity. You are where you are for a reason, with these people and this family. To be Christ to these people and this family. Saying "yes" to God means saying "yes" to a lifelong, holy struggle to imitate Christ in the midst of the beauty and the faults of these particular people.
One last tip from St. Josemaria on dealing with difficult people or relationships in our lives: "Don't say, 'that person gets on my nerves.' Think instead: 'That person sanctifies me.'
For the record--again--I want to say that I have far less drama in my family than me writing a whole post on family drama might suggest. Really and truly, I am aware more than ever right now of how blessed I am to have a loving family that has wrapped me, my husband and my children up in love and support this year.
God bless you and yours this holiday season! St. Josemaria Escriva, pray for us!
P.S. I thought I'd share a yummy find...pumpkin pie made with RumChata is kind of heavenly.