Wars on Christmas
The holiday season is ripe for family feuds. Here is how to avoid them.
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Hello, friends! The most wonderful time of the year is upon us yet again! Given that this will be The American Postliberal’s last publication before we break off for the holidays, I figured that I would write an AdamoZone Christmas special! And really, who does not love a Christmas special?
Christmas is, as its core, defined by its religious emphasis: preparing for the birth of Christ, the new-born King. However, in our modern day, conservative Christians sometimes groan at scenes of Christmas bustle and merry-making, claiming that the holiday’s religious core is lost in all the shopping, decorating, and get-togethers.
I do not think these people could be any more wrong. One completely misses the point if they think of any spiritual cultivation as an individual exercise, only held between us and God. When we prepare our houses with decorations for the Christmas season, we are acting out the inward preparations we make for Christ’s birth. When we give gifts to one another, we are reflecting the ultimate gift given to all of us: Christ’s coming to earth.
You may point out that many people do Christmas-y things without much explicit thought to Christ; you would be correct. However, Christ tells us in Matthew 25:31-40 that when we serve our neighbor, we serve Him. That is why those who are more explicitly Christian make more of an effort to do Christmas-y things; and that parents, themselves replicating God’s loving Creation through the family they have lovingly created, also tend to act more Christmas-y.
If you think about it, all the elements of Christmas reflect a religious reality. Even something as simple as a warmly lit, tree-adorned den against the backdrop of a snowy night reflects the new gifts, separate from the world, that Christ brings. Likewise, when we are fortunate enough to “come home for the holidays,” exiting our usual lives and spending time with our families, we are given one of Christ’s main gifts: peace.
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If you are lucky, you are familiar with this Christmas-y peace, where the world stands still. Christ says in John 14 that when he grants us “peace,” he “does not give [us] as the world gives,” which is why this Christmas peace only comes through exiting the world for a moment: we get to kick the world’s snow off our boots and enter the warmly lit den.
Unfortunately, sometimes, the world’s stinging cold makes its way into the warm den and the idyllic Christmas-y peace between families is interrupted by screaming and fighting. Screaming and fighting, in relying on force and hurtfulness instead of patience and cooperation to attain its ends, is to families what war is to countries. It is the enemy of peace, and should be avoided at all costs…
This is easier said than done, though. Our family is the frontline of our character; the comfort and openness that makes them the closest people in our lives also makes them the easiest people to treat poorly. If your roommate spilled hot cocoa all over your computer, versus your brother or sister, who do you think you would be more likely to ream out?
This closeness of both connection and quarters, therefore, makes the Christmas season ripe for fighting, the enemy of Christmas-y peace. So, what is the best way to avoid wars on Christmas?
The first step is realizing that your brother or sister is going to spill hot cocoa all over your computer… well, not exactly, but somebody is going to screw up somehow. It is inevitable. As Romans 3:23 reminds us, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”; we just cannot help it.
So, if your brother or sister spills hot cocoa all over our laptop or whatever, what is the right move? If somebody trespasses against us, what should we do? The answer is this: when somebody else makes a mistake, our goal should be to make it as easy as possible for them to apologize. This is because when one makes a mistake, the best thing for their sake is for them to recognize said mistake, and we should always want what is best for people. We make it easy for people to apologize when we are forgiving.
Losing your temper at somebody acts as a barrier to apology because their apologizing would then seem to imply an improper admission that the vitriolic outburst was justified. It signals the lie that being sorry does not make a difference, and so instead of apologizing, they lose their temper right back. Your anger prevents them from doing the right thing, and wrecks the Christmas-y peace. So many Christmas screaming matches across America could have been nipped in the bud if the first scream was met with no scream in return.
The real challenge comes when you have made a mistake. Just because it is very difficult to apologize when somebody is being unfair in their reaction, does not mean that you should not still apologize anyways. It may be hard, but the best way to disarm somebody being unreasonable and mean is by being reasonable and kind. If you are valiantly forgiving, you will set the tone of the room, helping everybody around you.
If we react harshly towards one another, it will ruin Christmas-y peace that the holidays can so wonderfully provide. Meeting meanness with meanness only makes things worse. Instead, Christ provides us with a radical, failsafe solution to those who wrong us: instead of reacting with “an eye for an eye,” we should “turn the other cheek.” Merry Christmas!
The AdamoZone is a column by Luca Adamo, Vice President of Marketing and columnist at The American Postliberal. Published every Friday at 5:00pm EST.
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