During the winter holidays, we choose to decorate the inside and outside of our homes as a show of communal celebratory mood that enhances the beauty of our homes and elevates the mutual joy of neighbors, friends and family. Though this endeavor requires energy, skills, design and costs, the pleasure of the festive atmosphere enhances our personal and communal good mood. The shared celebratory lights uplift our communal connection and create a festive atmosphere for all. People smile more readily, are friendly and create a personal connection with each other. How can we maintain this “community bond” with an individual with whom we have had an unpleasant experience or exchange?
Many people invite friends and family to visit, stay over and share conversations, ideas and experiences. The communal connection feels safe, lively, intimate and bonding. Even in large families where some individuals may not all get along well during the rest of the year, holidays may compel them to be pleasant and kind, entertain each other and share experiences. It is easy to let the old conflicts be put aside and be in your best mood for a short duration for good times to be experienced by all.
How can we maintain the same attitude, curiosity, interest and kindness toward each other throughout the year even if we do not share the same political, social or philosophical ideas?
Perhaps we need to agree with each other, or convince ourselves that this is the time to be “curious-not furious” with our second cousin who treated us poorly years ago. Some people believe that someone owes them an apology and are non-yielding in maintaining a distance from that individual, who may or may not even remember the conflict of old. So, one party is yearning for an apology, while the other party is unaware of what is expected of him/her and the unpleasant connection may trouble both of them.
Those who wish for an apology may be wise to contact the family member in advance and kindly ask for it. State that, “We are going to share the Holidays. Let’s do it with cheer and joy of the present. I need an apology from you about the words we exchanged last year/month/week to have this Holiday be joyful for both of us.” Most likely, the listener may be pleased to have the issue cleared in advance and be in a kind and friendly mood in person. The alternative of continuing to hold a grudge will serve you poorly.
Please make sure that you know who will be present during the Holidays and contact the person with whom you had a conflict to resolve the misunderstanding in advance. This will enable you to be cordial to one another during the Holiday celebration.
Some guests are in the habit of judging the hosts’ home, decor, relationship, hospitality, children or habits. If you entertain a critical view, please share it with your partner on the way home but dismiss it while you are among your family and friends. Critical thoughts may be inadvertently translated to a bad mood, sarcasm, criticism and unkind exchanges.
“Tis the season to be jolly.” Let us commit to it in attitude, behavior and compassion toward others.