Welcome to the holidays! We have successfully traversed Thanksgiving and find ourselves headed toward late December at an alarmingly rapid pace. We will soon find ourselves surrounded by wrapping paper, holiday food, caroling, and family. We hope the last item on that list is a pleasant thought, but if not, we can still have a wonderful season together.
Almost every family enjoys that one member who inspires stifled groans, sighs, and even possibly the occasional eye roll due to his or her attitude about family gatherings. Perhaps it is that aunt who cannot say a kind word to anyone, that cousin whose focus in life seems to be comparing herself to others in a manner degrading to anyone save herself, or maybe it is that brother, father or uncle who thinks that imitating Ebeneezer Scrooge before his transformation is an ideal way to greet extended relatives at the door. I myself have an older sibling who doesn't happen to be a woman. Historically we have fought like brother and sister. No one quite knows why.
I also have two relatives, one via blood and one marriage who waited for literally years to accept my Facebook friend request, considering me too far beneath them to condescend that far. I never treated them badly regardless of their blatant rudeness to the extent that the rest of the family began spitefully whispering about how bad they were and what a generous saint I proved. But we do not have to treat relatives badly in order to have peace or a wonderful holiday. One great lesson from the yoga mat is that when we find a tightness in our bodies or in our lives, we breathe into that spot and shortly the tension will dissipate. I employed this technique with these two ladies and though they both continually shot me venomous looks, I had peace. I would sit quietly alone, concentrate on these ladies, mentally accept the existence of frustration that stood between us and then breathe deeply, focusing on releasing tension in that quarter. It worked. I felt calmer, more peaceful about them, more ready to give and recognized better that I deserved to have peace, even if they did not accept my offerings of good will. I gave generously to them as they stiffly replied or perhaps didn't even acknowledge me at all. This continued for years. I invited them to parties and into my circle. They continually rejected me. I find it didn't hurt my feelings, because I was doing this partly so that I would not harbor negativity in my own soul, and being kind to people, despite their reaction, cultivates peace of conscience.
People may have some wrinkle in their souls that would lead them to reject us. No judgement. That is their own problem. It does not ever have to be ours. Breathe into that relationship. Pray for Christlike generosity. Extend the hand of kindness that your own spirit may be without stain or blemish. Do not expect anything in return, for it is possible you may not receive anything. No matter. God will bless you and someday, as transpired with both these ladies, they may actually grace your life enough to deign to click the "Accept" option on Facebook.